AAD gone but not forgotten


Africa’s biggest exhibition of defence and security equipment has come and gone, but it has not been forgotten. The three trade days, held between September 19 and 21 at Air Force Base Waterkloof outside Pretoria, were attended by 40 000 trade visitors from 28 countries, who came to see what 350 exhibitors had to offer the defence and security industry.

The Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition is undoubtedly the best time to showcase the local South African defence industry, which employs more than 15 000 people and contributes more than R12 billion in turnover per year to the economy – half of this comes from export contracts.

The deals concluded, agreements signed and attention generated during the show should be enough to keep exhibitors busy until the next exhibition, which will be held again at Waterkloof between 17 and 21 September 2014.

The previous edition of Africa Aerospace and Defence was held in Cape Town in 2010, which many people appreciated for its scenic beauty and proximity to the ocean. Indeed, many of the shipyards present at Waterkloof lamented the fact that the sea was so far away, making it more difficult to showcase their products. However, the Waterkloof location is central to much of South Africa’s defence industry and is a shorter distance than Cape Town for most international visitors. A further benefit is the greatly expanded area for exhibitors and their displays – 22 000 square metres this year.

Many companies were offering products to the South African National Defence Force, including trucks for Project Vistula (e.g. Navistar Defence, Acmat and Renault), inshore, offshore and hydrographic research vessels for Project Biro (Nautic Africa, Fincantieri, Lurssen, Damen, DCNS, Istanbul Shipyards etc.) and transport/maritime surveillance aircraft for Project Saucepan (Saab, RUAG, HAL, Diamond, Lockheed Martin and Airbus Military, amongst others).

However, many exhibitors were not at AAD for the South African market but rather were courting clients in the rest of Africa and the Middle East – 40% of exhibitors were foreign and 61 of 120 visiting delegations were from overseas.

While exhibitors were understandably reluctant to talk about orders to the media, it was clear that most companies had attracted a lot of interest from potential clients. Many of the exhibitors whom defenceWeb spoke to said that they did not expect to sell their products at the exhibition, but rather anticipated that sales would come through later – AAD 2012 was more about exposure and product launches. Thus, it can be expected that the real deals will be made after everyone has packed up and gone home. Watch this space.