Paramount Group, Africa’s largest privately held defence company, has acquired a 30% stake in South African communications company Emcom Wireless. The investment will allow Paramount Group to better meet the growing demands for flexible and inter-operable communications equipment that is coming from African countries involved in regional UN peacekeeping operations.

There are currently eight peacekeeping operations in Africa, the largest for any region in the world, and Africa accounts for the lion’s share of the $7.6bn UN peacekeeping budget. 33% of all peacekeepers are African and Sudan is now the UN’s biggest peacekeeping operation.

Interoperability between various multinational forces is regarded as a crucial mission critical component that affects the effectiveness of forces that often operate over large, sparsely populated areas such as the UN missions in Darfur and the Western Sahara.

Paramount Group manufactures mine protected vehicles for African and other emerging economies, including the IED resistant six-wheeled Mbombe, which was recently launched in Johannesburg. Emcom Wireless, founded in 1968, provides mission critical communications equipment to companies in the defence, policing, utilities, transport and energy sectors. The partnership brings together two well-established South African companies and draws on their relative strengths to target the peacekeeping vehicle market.

Ivor Ichikowitz, executive chairman of the Paramount Group, said: “The purpose of this partnership is to more effectively meet the practical and political goals of African defence forces engaged in peacekeeping operations. Our research indicates that communication – and crucially inter-operability with foreign defence forces – is a crucial aspect to the success of peacekeeping missions, which is why we have decided to partner with a company that specialises in this area.

“The bedrock of achieving this co-ordination is flexible communications equipment that can operate well as part of large peacekeeping coalitions which comprise of multiple nations operating different systems,” he continued. “Emcom are experts in mission critical wireless communications solutions and leveraging on their expertise will allow us to kit out our peacekeeping vehicles, such as the Mbombe, Marauder and Matador, with the best technologies. This means we can provide future proofed solutions, as well as end user training and ongoing technical support to African defence forces that are part of peacekeeping coalitions.

“Ultimately, this partnership provides us with an opportunity to provide all our clients – including 22 defence forces across the globe – with a truly integrated and complete communications solution. In this sense, communications is now a more prominent part of the design and construction process, as opposed to being an afterthought,” Ichikowitz concluded.

George Spencer, managing director of Emcom Wireless said: “This partnership will bring us closer to the production process of Paramount vehicles and allow us to offer their clients, especially those governments buying vehicles for peacekeeping services, better communications equipment and technical support. The partnership also provides Emcom Wireless with a springboard into the global defence communications market. We see Africa as a growth area for our skills and I think as part of this it is important to partner with large international companies like Paramount Group.”