China is making inroads into the African defense market by setting up a military base and exporting military equipment to almost two thirds of African countries.
Countries including Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde, Nigeria, Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Uganda, Ghana and Zambia have bought military equipment from China in the recent past.
According to a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released in February this year, Chinese exports of major arms increased by 88 per cent between 2006–10 and 2011–15, and China’s share of global arms exports rose from 3.6 to 5.9 per cent.
Between 2006–10 and 2011–15 imports by states in Africa increased by 19 per cent. The three largest importers in Africa in 2011–15 were Algeria (30 per cent of imports), Morocco (26 per cent) and Uganda (6.2 per cent). China accounted for 13 per cent of the total imports by African countries.
States in sub-Saharan Africa received 41 per cent of total African imports. Uganda, Sudan and Nigeria were the largest importers in the sub-region, accounting for 15, 12 and 11 per cent of the sub-regional total respectively. China accounted for 22 per cent arms exports to the sub-region.
Algerian imports from China include two frigates. The deliveries are scheduled for the next five years.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has set up International Aero Development Corporation (IADC) in 2015 as part of their expansion plan in Africa. The company has been involved in the development and export of several People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) platforms, including the FC-20, the export version of the Chengdu J-10, and the FC-1 Xiaolong, the export version of the JF-17 Thunder. IADC was set up to promote exports of AVIC’s civilian aircraft.
Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Mauritania, and Djibouti operate AVIC planes. This includes dual-use trainer aircraft, including the Hongdu L-15 and the joint Chinese/Pakistani K-8 Karakorum.
Zambia unveiled two its new L-15 Falcon fighter/trainer aircraft bought from China at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exposition last week in their first public debut. Zambia reportedly ordered six L-15s in early 2014 at a cost of around $100 million.
Since 2011, China has also sold the Wing Loong I UCAV to several countries in Africa and the Middle East, including Nigeria, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates.
In 2011–15 China supplied 5 UCAVs to Nigeria and 4 to Iraq. The Nigerian army is reportedly using Chinese drones in its fight against Boko Haram.
Chinese Poly Technologies has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with South African Denel Tuesday to join forces in South African maritime rejuvenation. Poly Technologies is likely to make an investment in the recapitalization of the Simons Town dockyard as part of its management takeover by Denel Integrated Systems and Maritime (Denel ISM). Poly Technologies is involved in almost every defence sector including dockyard construction, ship building, tank and armoured vehicle manufacturing, and fighter aircraft production.
China will soon take control of a dual-use port facility in Djibouti, Newslaundry reported last week. The port facility will serve both military and civilian functions. The naval installation will serve China’s interests in the Western region of Indian Ocean and can be used as a platform for operations in Middle East and Africa.