China’s prominent defense enterprise, Norinco, has made a significant move by inaugurating a new office in the capital city of Senegal, Dakar. This strategic step reflects Norinco’s burgeoning footprint in West Africa’s military procurement arena.
Heading this new regional office is Zheng Yun Gang, a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in the defense sector. In his role, he will spearhead the expansion of Norinco’s operations not only in Senegal but also across other West African nations.
Already making inroads into Senegal, Norinco has supplied VN2 armored infantry fighting, CS/VN-3C armoured vehicles, and other reconnaissance vehicles to General Moussa Fall’s gendarmerie through intermediary Thierno Ba, a military equipment broker.
Furthermore, discussions are reportedly underway between Norinco and the Senegalese government concerning the provision of light weaponry and ammunition for the country’s environment ministry.
Norinco’s concerted efforts to enhance its presence in West Africa signal China’s mounting military influence within the region. The corporation is already a major supplier of weaponry to countries like Algeria, Nigeria, and Angola.
The inauguration of the new Dakar office is likely to amplify Norinco’s impact in West Africa, potentially prompting shifts in the region’s security dynamics.
Beyond Senegal, Norinco has established regional offices in Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa. Additionally, there are plans to expand further into more West African nations in the near future.
Some of Norinco’s recent activities in the region includes; Supply of VN1 8×8 infantry fighting vehicles for the Gabonese Scouting, Reconnaissance, and Combat Squadron component of the elite Republican Guard Armoured Intervention Group.
The Gabonese Republican Guard (GR) also acquired some Norinco VP11 mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles which was publicly for the first time during the 17 August Independence Day, 2022 military parade in Libreville.
Although, Gabon had complained of some of its Chinese vehicles failing during rigorous combat operations and exercises.
For Nigeria, about sixty Type-89 tracked armoured vehicles to boost Nigeria’s ongoing and future offensive in the northeastern region against insurgents.
The armoured fighting vehicles joins several recent acquisitions from China, which includes NORINCO ST1 105 mm Fire Support Vehicle, VT-4 Main Battle Tank, SH-5 105mm self-propelled Artillery System, and SH-2 122mm self-propelled artillery system. These hardware arrived in April 2020.
Subsequent delivery of additional hardware comprising of VT4 main battle tanks, ST1 120 mm tanks destroyers, SH2, SH4 self-propelled artillery, and KIA tactical vehicles arrived in October 2020.
The Nigerian Army already operates 120 NORINCO CS/VP3 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP) delivered in 2015.
Late 2021, the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) improved upon its 15-strong Chinese Type 59G main battle tanks with new Norinco VT-2 main battle tanks.
Meanwhile, the Malian military government led by Colonel Assimi Göita has recently acquired a large number of VP11 4×4 Lightweight MRAP, and Lynx CS/VP11 ATV made by Norinco, a Chinese arms manufacturer to aid in the fight against insurgency.
The expansion of Norinco in West Africa has garnered support from certain regional countries seeking to diversify their sources of arms procurement. However, for some, the escalation of China’s military presence in the area is a matter of concern.
The ultimate implications of Norinco’s advancement in West Africa on the region’s security equilibrium remain to be seen. Yet, one fact is undeniable – China is asserting itself as a formidable contender in the West African arms market.