South Africa will be the centre of attraction and a hive of activity throughout 2023 as the country assumes the Chairship of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) partnership with the pinnacle being the 15th BRICS Summit that will take place in August 2023. The theme of South Africa’s BRICS Chairship is BRICS and Africa – Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.

As a programme of events rolls out throughout the year to mark SA’s Chairship, South African companies say the country’s membership of BRICS has created trade and investment opportunities that the private sector has grabbed with both hands and are doing business to contribute in growing the intra-BRICS trade and investment.

One such company is Bat Hawk Aircraft International which is based in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, The Managing Director of the company, Mr Terry Pappas says the manufacturing company is reaping the rewards of being part of  BRICS . The company is doing business with companies in other BRICS countries in areas of mutual interest  and have partnered with other aircraft manufacturers in the aviation space.

Bat Hawk Aircraft International manufactures and develops light sport aircraft for surveillance and conservation for different markets across the world.

“While our biggest aircrafts importer in the continent is the Democratic Republic of Congo, followed by Botswana and Mozambique, we do export outside the continent as well. We have footprints in the United States of America (USA) and Australia. But our major breakthrough in the past five years has been with the BRICS,” says Pappas.

According to Pappas, they started exporting to China, after they visited the country on an Outward Selling Mission (OSM) organised by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic) in 2015. He says they had a partner in China that assited them in moving four units as part of the test trial for their aircrafts.

“Our biggest break came in 2019 while we were on another OSM to India with the dtic. We were able to secure a partnership and sign a contract to supply 200 Bat Hawk aircrafts to Max-Link Adventure Sports Club that will see both companies benefit from the partnership,” he says.

The partnership and export contract which is valued at R50 million will create over 100 jobs in India once the factory that we will be setting up there has been completed. The less labour-intensive components of the aircrafts that require specialised equipment will be manufactured in South Africa, while the labour-intensive work will be done in India. Both countries have specialised skills and labour force to make the partnership a reality,” adds Pappas.

He says that their first two unit that will be used as a prototypes for the factory in India was shipped out a few weeks ago.

“We might in the future embark on a scope mission to Brazil to access how we can enter that market and form partnerships with other companies there. Brazil has amazing aircraft builders that produce magnificent planes. They certainly do have the capability to supply other markets, but we also want to benefit from their expertise,” he says.

The company, which employs 18 people at two different factories in Nelspruit sources 80% of their  material locally while the rest comes from France, USA and Austria.

“Our local sales only amount to about 7% of our annual production. Last year was very good as we produced over 30 aircraft. The most worthy being surveillance aircraft for the South African National Parks to be used to combat rhino poaching. These aircraft were sponsored by Anglo Platinum. Our company is currently preparing to showcase our new aircraft that is specifically built to curb anti-terrorism at the 16th  International Defence Industry Fair that will take place in Instabul, Turkey in July 2023. We will use the platform to showcase our capabilities to the world. We will see how it will be received, if we are successful, we will have to expand further into other countries,” says Pappas.

In regards to trade and business partnerships, Pappas says he will like to see the BRICS  advocating for open free trade as this will stimulate huge amount of economic growth and take the partnership  on a different level of trading and investment.

The Managing Director of Bat Hawk Aircraft International, Mr Terry Pappas at the company’s base in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga.

Bongani Lukhele – Director: Media Relations
Tel: (012) 394 1643
Mobile: 079 5083 457
WhatsApp: 074 2998 512
Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)

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