Progress is being made towards establishing the Border Management Authority (BMA), a new body designed to effect tighter controls on South Africa’s 72 ports of entry. The BMA aims to reduce illegal immigration, smuggling of contraband and the associated loss of customs and excise revenues, human trafficking, wildlife poaching, and the spread of animal-borne diseases across borders.
More positively, effective border posts will make regional trade more efficient and profitable, and modernised customs systems and procedures will make border crossings quicker, facilitating tourism and trade.
With 4,400km of borders currently managed by five different organs of state, the yet to be formed BMA will have a significant task ahead of it, with all stakeholders seeking to achieve the best possible results from effective use of financial, human, and hardware resources. Technology is likely to play a pivotal role in its success.
South Africa has a strong relationship with BRICS partner Brazil, which has addressed its own border management challenges in the last decade, using an effective and comprehensive border management solution.
Sharing its 17,000km of borders with 10 other countries, Brazil has turned to technology using its Integrated Border Monitoring System (SISFRON). This network of surveillance radars, sensors, command, control and communication systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is approaching completion of its first phase, expected to be fully operation by 2035.
Brazil’s borders are four times the length of South Africa’s and the country faced similar challenges as those currently faced by South Africa. This lead to the introduction of SISFRON to control the influx of migrants from neighbouring countries, combat drug and human trafficking, organised crime, and the poaching of natural resources.
Working as part of a collaborative team of service providers, Saab provided stationary and mobile remote-controlled sensor stations with monitoring and direction-finding capabilities in HF, VHF and UHF frequency ranges. These all provided data to a regional centre for monitoring and the project included comprehensive training for all personnel involved.
A similar system, on a scale suitable for South Africa’s borders, could be effectively deployed for communication network recognition, monitoring and reporting, with globally tried-and-tested solutions allowing the BMA to achieve maximum personnel efficiency. Trusted data would maximise on-ground responses, making sure that all resources would achieve the best-possible results.
One of the most important elements of a proper functioning border management system is a reliable surveillance system that could be a blend of land and naval based radar systems, such as Saab’s Giraffe Radar family of 3D radars.
The system provides a multirole capability and offers 360-degree monitoring for identifying air targets, and simultaneously locates and warns against incoming hostile aircraft or other military activity. The systems are part of Saab’s broader border management solutions.
Such a system is also effective in identifying the presence of much smaller unidentified airborne vehicles, such as drones, which could be carrying payloads that pose a threat to cross-border security, whether these are of a military or weapons nature, or whether they are used to smuggle illicit items across border lines. These systems are all part of Saab’s broad offering of border management solutions.
Saab’s Giraffe ELSS (Enhanced Low, Slow and Small) function detects and tracks even small/mini-UAVs, with a false alarm rate reduced to an absolute minimum – again making sure that personnel and resources are deployed with maximum possible effect.
Once South Africa’s BMA has been established, it will be able to turn to some of the world’s foremost experts on tactical command and control systems and air surveillance and ground based air defence, with recognised experience in local conditions, making it possible to achieve maximum effect and efficiency, for the safety and protection of South Africa.
By Paballo Motoboli, marketing executive at Saab for Middle East and Africa.