The 2020 edition of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition has been officially launched during a ceremony at the DSEI defence show in London this week.
The Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, at the South African pavilion on Thursday addressed show attendees and members of the South African delegation, which included members of the Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association of South Africa, Armscor and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).
“AAD is the largest aerospace and defence exhibition in Africa and the only one of its kind, boasting a successful combined exhibition of air, sea and land technologies, a static aircraft display and an air show. Significantly, AAD is the largest assembly of African leaders and decision makers, undoubtedly a gateway to doing business in Africa and a key catalyst and partner to unlocking business potential and partnerships,” Makwetla said.
Makwetla pointed out that President Cyril Ramaphosa opened AAD 2018 and said that the exhibition creates opportunities for joint ventures that translate into technology growth, employment, skills development and economic stimulus.
“By hosting this event, South Africa showcases its interest in growing the economy and that of its neighbouring countries through leveraging intellectual property into tangible products and export contracts,” Makwetla said.
Planning for AAD 2020 is well underway, with 40% of the space booked. In the last week, the organisers have signed up both Belgium and the United States as national pavilions and expect other defence producing nations to do the same in the next few weeks. The United States has participated in all AADs since inception and expects more than 15 American companies to take part next year.
AAD 2020 is expected to attract over 400 exhibitors from at least 35 countries and over10 000 visitors a day. The 2018 edition attracted 32 000 trade visitors, 55 000 air show visitors, 486 exhibitors from 40 countries and 68 aircraft on display.
“I now declare AAD 2020 officially launched, and I invite you save the dates September 16th to 20th of September 2020 at the Air Force Base Waterkloof in Tshwane,” Makwetla said. “South Africa is open for business and partnerships to mutually benefit us all.”
AAD comprises three trade days and two air show days. As next year is the centenary of the South African Air Force, Makwetla invited air forces to bring their assets to celebrate the achievement. The Air Force will be celebrating its centenary with the theme “100 years of air power, through 25 years of democracy”.
During his time at DSEI this week, Makwetla met with stakeholders from various countries to discuss defence and security, including the United States, Belgium and United Kingdom. Bilateral talks with the UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, saw the discussion of possible areas of trade and military cooperation between South Africa and the United Kingdom.