AAD expected to yield significant economic, educational value once again

10th June 2024 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

AAD expected to yield significant economic, educational value once again

Photo by: Creamer Media

Speaking at a preliminary event marking 100 days until the next Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) trade exhibition and airshow, which will take place from September 18 to 22, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise has highlighted the economic and educational impact of the biennial event.

“The economic impact of the AAD on South Africa is substantial. In 2022, international visitors contributed over R135-million to our GDP, while public and trade visitors generated R150-million in revenue.

“The event also raised R65-million in tax revenue and created over 1 350 jobs. These figures highlight the importance and impact of AAD on our local and national economy,” she said in a briefing, in Centurion, on June 10.

She noted, however, that the educational value of the event was just as important as its economic contribution.

“Our event is not just about business. It’s about inspiring the next generation. In 2022, we hosted over 9 000 learners from disadvantaged and marginalised communities, exposing them to science and technology disciplines and related career opportunities. This year, we expect 10 000 learners from across all nine provinces to benefit from this transformative programme,” she said.

The theme for the upcoming AAD conference is ‘Exploring new paths, sharing solutions, showcasing innovation and capability’, which Modise said was reflective of the spirit of what she believed the South African aviation and defence sector was striving for.

“This year’s theme encapsulates our commitment to fostering innovation, enhancing global partnerships and showcasing the impressive capabilities within the aerospace and defence sectors,” AAD exhibition director Nakedi Phasha said.

Modise noted that South Africa had been striving to modernise its defence capabilities, including its aviation sector, by investing in advanced technologies and equipment. This includes enhancing communication and surveillance systems and integrating advanced weaponry.

“It is important to note that new developments and opportunities are the driving force of the sector. As a country, we are an established exporter of aerospace- and defence-related products, having developed a strong local manufacturing base,” she explained.

Modise noted that the focus, from a government perspective, would remain on increasing international participation, fostering collaborations, and exploring new sponsorship and partnership opportunities.

“Our goal is to expand the event’s footprint across Africa while positioning South Africa as a hub for innovation and excellence in the aerospace and defence sectors,” she said.

AAD serves as a significant platform for aerospace and defence industry stakeholders, including military personnel, policymakers, original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers, to showcase their latest technologies, products and services. It is the only event of its kind in Africa and is one of only six similar events globally.

“For our city, this event is incredibly important because it showcases the industry that we do have in our capital city, and in this country. It is a major event. If you want to have a great city, you must host great events. You must create interesting and compelling things for your residents to participate in and to see.

“But it's not just about our industry putting together compelling events. It is also about the enormous economic injection that the event gives to our city,“ Tshwane executive mayor Cilliers Brink added.

He agreed with Modise that it was more than just an economically beneficial event, pointing out that it also served to inspire young South Africans to take an interest in the defence aerospace industries.

This year, countries such as Belgium, the US, China, India, Brazil and Russia have all been invited to take part. Aerospace and defence companies such as SAAB, Airbus, Turkish Aerospace Industries and L3Harris Technologies will be among the exhibitors.

“We are particularly excited about the introduction of several specialised hubs, including the energy and general aviation hubs as well as a hub dedicated to drone and anti-drone technologies. These hubs will showcase the latest innovation and provide a space for live demonstrations, enhancing the interactive and engaging nature of our exhibition,” Phasha said.

She said that as many as 30 000 trade visitors and more than 300 exhibitors were expected at this year’s event. In addition, this year will see the first time that conference has been included as part of the event.

“Our maiden conference edition will feature thought leaders from industry, academia, and the defence sector, providing valuable insights into the pressing issues affecting our industry today,” Phasha said.