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May 23, 2024
Kampala Daily

Turkish Government eyes Uganda for military drones market

The Turkish government is setting its sights on Uganda’s military drone market, as evidenced by the recent push for the approval of a Military Training Cooperation Agreement.

This agreement, signed in September 2022, establishes a framework for military training exchanges, joint exercises, and specialist cooperation in various fields. Notably, this includes training in intelligence gathering, a key component for modern drone warfare.

The agreement signifies a significant development in the existing military relationship between the two nations, which began in the 1990s and was formalized in 1996. Uganda’s recent participation in EFES-2024, a large-scale Turkish military exercise, further underscores this growing cooperation.

Uganda’s People’s Defence Force (UPDF) is estimated to be around 40,000 to 45,000 strong, and the country actively recruits on an annual basis. Turkey’s strategic move can be seen as an attempt to cultivate a close relationship with Uganda’s potential future leader.

Uganda’s military modernization efforts present a lucrative opportunity for Turkey’s booming defense industry. Turkey has already secured similar agreements with 14 other African nations, focusing on military training, joint production, and procurement of defense equipment. This strategy effectively expands the market for Turkish defense conglomerates with close ties to President Erdogan.

Turkey’s drone technology, particularly the Bayraktar TB2 UCAV, has gained recognition in recent conflicts. These drones offer a significant advantage: a streamlined export approval process compared to those of the United States and the European Union. Uganda joins a growing list of African nations, including Mali, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, that have opted for Turkish drones.

While drones are a key focus, the military cooperation extends beyond aerial warfare. The agreement allows for collaboration in light weapons, military vehicles, and ammunition exports. This comprehensive approach strengthens military ties and positions Turkey as a one-stop shop for Uganda’s military needs.

The Road Ahead: Challenges and Opportunities

The success of this partnership hinges on addressing certain challenges. The controversial appointment of Kainerugaba raises concerns about stability and transparency within Uganda’s military leadership. Integrating new technologies like drones requires proper training and infrastructure development within the UPDF.

However, the potential rewards are significant. By forging a strong military partnership with Uganda, Turkey gains access to a growing market and bolsters its strategic presence in Africa. This collaboration offers Uganda access to advanced military technology and training, potentially enhancing its national security posture.

The coming months will be crucial in determining the depth and breadth of this military cooperation. If successful, this partnership could serve as a model for future Turkish military collaborations in Africa.

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