Representatives from India, Brazil and South Africa met in Brazil in September 2012 to continue discussions on cooperation in defence, science, engineering and technology. Together, the countries form a South-South cooperation grid which was established as the IBSA Forum in 2003, with the formal intent to amass skills and technological know-how and to boost advances in these countries’ defence technology capabilities.
The next IBSA Forum meeting is provisionally scheduled for South Africa later this year. All three nations will participate in the African Aerospace and Defence Expo which takes place at Waterkloof Air Force Base in September 2012, some as exhibitors, others as visiting country delegations.
In media reports, Mr Antonie Visser, Chief: Defence Materiel of the South African Department of Defence and chairperson of the tri-lateral workgroup has confirmed the positive progress in collaborative research activities amongst the countries.
Andre Nepgen, Executive Director for the CSIR’s defence-focused science, engineering and technology capability reiterated the importance of such collaborative development work: “Internationally, countries have come to realise that a technological advantage is a power base to ensure competitiveness, development, as well as the sovereignty of state. However, this does not mean that countries are out to do everything themselves; increasingly, multi-national partnerships and research and development collaborations across countries are emerging. This keeps costs lower and provides access to the skills needed to deal with the ever-increasing complexity of modern technologies shaping the defence space. Access to technology is not the issue anymore. Many civilian and commercial technologies have found their way into the defence world. The issue is having the technical capability on hand to understand and adapt technologies – and keep on adapting and re-engineering technologies and capabilities to ‘out-innovate’ continuous shifts in the treat environment.”
Twenty-two ministries and defence industry players were represented at the meeting. Site visits were conducted to strategic research facilities and product development institutes in a number of cities in Brazil. Similarly, the partner countries will be visiting the CSIR and other defence technology development facilities when they visit here.