Central European defense companies are negotiating new deals to sell more weapons, military equipment and related services in Africa as they seek to poach customers looking for alternatives to Russia, companies and government officials say.

Though now part of the Western NATO alliance, former Warsaw Pact members such as the Czech Republic, then part of Czechoslovakia, delivered a steady supply of weapons to African countries during the Communist era and so are well-placed to maintain or upgrade those systems.

"The best new markets are the African ones because they still use Soviet-era equipment but now want Western technology added to it," said Jiri Hynek, president and director of industry trade group the Defense and Security Industry Association of the Czech Republic.