The South African defence industry employs more than 15 000 people and contributes more than R12 billion in turnover per year to the economy, contributing to job creation and revenue for South Africa.
Simphiwe Hamilton, the Executive Director of South Africa’s Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) said that, “The South African defence industry contributes more than R12 billion in turnover annually, with just over half of this attributable to high value added export contracts. This impacts positively on the country’s balance of payments and foreign reserves and it further positions the industry as a sector with one of the highest export propensity in South Africa.”
He added that the defence industry also contributes significantly to employment and skills development in South Africa, and employs more than 15 000 highly qualified and experienced technical personnel. “The industry has nurtured engineers, technicians and artisans, with most of these contributing handsomely in transport, construction, space and power generation projects,” said Hamilton. “Global aerospace studies reveal that this sector has a multiplier effect of four – which means that for every job in this sector, there are at least four downstream jobs that are created or supported.”
Approximately R1 billion is invested in research and development in the South African defence industry each year, according to Africa Aerospace and Defence, but in many cases, the technology that emerges from this has found its way into civilian life. Civilian sectors that have benefited from military technology include railways, crime prevention, and mining safety and productivity – not to mention astronomy projects such as the South African Large Telescope (SALT) and the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).
From a practical point of view, the skills and equipment developed by the South African defence industry are used in applications well beyond their primary task of defending the country from potential aggressors. Defence personnel and technology are currently involved with demining activities in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Sudan. The military was key in rescue operations in flooding in Mozambique and Tanzania, and is often called on by other countries in the SADC region to assist with search and recovery in various disaster situations.
“Some of the industry’s most groundbreaking and technologically advanced equipment will be on display at Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2012,” said Hamilton. “Industry experts will also be on hand to explain the contribution of the industry to the work that the military does, and the difference it makes in the daily lives of South Africans. There will be static display and exciting demonstrations that will show the full scope of what the South African defence industry has achieved, both in creating products that are globally sought after, and in presenting solutions to the challenges that citizens experience every day.”
AAD is the largest exhibition of air, sea and land capabilities on the African continent, and is jointly hosted and presented by the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA), the Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association of South Africa (AMD) and the Armament Corporation of South Africa (Amscor). Substantial support is also received from the South African government and the cooperation of the Department of Defence as well as the Department of Trade and Industry.
The Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition is held biennially in September. The first three days of the exhibition are traditionally trade days, followed by two Air Show days that are open to the public – these are expected to attract crowds of more than 50 000 spectators per day. The seventh instalment of AAD will take place at Air Force Base Waterkloof outside Pretoria from 19 to 23 September and it is anticipated that it will be attended by visitors from 31 countries as well as South African industry/trade delegates.
The trade days will feature 11 national pavilions including United States, China, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Russia, India, Switzerland, Romania and United Kingdom.