A procurement delegation from the UN is currently in South Africa to encourage South African companies to pursue business opportunities with the United Nations.
The South Africa United Nations Procurement Summit is currently being hosted at the CSIR Convention Centre in Pretoria. The two-day event has seen an turnout of over 450  corporates, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), industry delegates and military officials, who have convened to discuss the unique procurement opportunities offered by the UN for South Africa businesses.
In 2015 there were nine UN peacekeeping missions in Africa alone, supported by more than 80 000 troops and 15 000 civilians. While 80% of all UN peacekeepers are deployed in Africa, South African companies supply less than 1% of UN procurement.
This is set to change however, with the UN looking to undertake local procurement action in a wide range of requirements, and make use of African-based suppliers for its peacekeeping and support operations on the continent going forward.
Defence and Military Veterans secretary Dr Sam Galube says: “South Africa has a supply ability in all categories, a world class business model, proximity to market and limited language barriers. We are ready and able to continue participating in the supply of products and services to the UN.”
He assures local SMEs that they will be supported when bidding for tenders to supply UN peacekeeping operations. He adds that Armscor, the South African National Defence Force’s acquisition arm, is working to serve as a vendor for SMEs, in an effort to limit their administrative costs. Work is also proceeding on a defence industry charter to assist small business in navigating the many local laws and regulations that often hinder SME growth and development.
Currently, R67-million out of R73-million of the UN’s procurement spend in South Africa is being spent on air transportation services. According to Dimitri Dovgopoly, the UN’s director of procurement, the peacekeeping organisation is committed to diversifying these figures.
Food is one of the greatest requirements of the UN, which  guarantees every soldier 4 500 calories of food per day. The provision of food therefore presents massive opportunity for local suppliers.
Other major requirements include pharmaceutical goods, vehicles, computers and software, shelter and accommodation for the troops stationed on the continent, telecommunications equipment, building materials and security equipment.
It also requires services in areas such as air charter, engineering, construction, freight, sanitation, water purification and emergency response teams.
Armscor CEO Kevin Wakeford comments: “We are interested in partnering for peace, stability and development in Africa, and we see the UN as a strategic enabler in realising this vision.”