AAD 2024 to feature energy, general aviation, and drone hubs

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The twelfth edition of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition in September this year will host several hubs to showcase the latest innovations in energy, general aviation, and drone/counter-drone technologies.

Giving an update on the 18-22 September exhibition, the organisers said that more than half of the available exhibition space at Air Force Base Waterkloof has already been booked out and confirmed.

“As organisers, we want to position the country as the global pinnacle of innovation, excellence, and a preferred investment destination,” said Nakedi Phasha, Exhibition Director at AAD. “We anticipate that more than 30 000 trade visitors will engage with over 300 exhibitors. Visitors can also attend our maiden conference edition to hear thought leaders in the industry, academia, and the defence sector provide insights into topical issues that directly impact the industry. Furthermore, we project at least 60 000 visitors will attend the public air show days to witness the exhilarating aerobatics spectacle.”

The projected figures are up significantly from 2022, when 203 exhibitors from 24 countries attended the show, down from 486 exhibitors from 40 countries in 2018 and 532 exhibitors from 34 countries in 2016. Trade visitors in 2022 amounted to 23 000 people from 76 countries, versus 32 538 in 2018 (112 countries) and 33 862 in 2016 (105 countries). The drop in numbers in 2022 was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that the 2020 edition did not take place because of it.

“Looking to the future, our focus will be on further increasing international participation, fostering collaborations, and exploring new sponsorship and partnership opportunities to grow the event’s footprint into Africa. We want to provide our partners with a premier event that contributes to the global aerospace and defence market,” said Phasha.

This year, international exhibitors have been confirmed from countries such as the United States, Belgium, and China, with headline exhibitors including Denel, Embraer, Saab, Airbus, Turkish Aerospace Industries, and L3Harris Technologies, amongst others.

“We are positioning the South African Defence Industry to use AAD 2024 as a platform for both buyers and sellers to come together and conclude those crucial and mutually beneficial deals,” said Armscor Chief Executive Solomzi Mbada earlier this year.

“Our South African defence budget might be dwindling but the global market presents an opportunity for local industries to take advantage of,” he said, adding the exhibition “provides local industries with an international platform to showcase and market their value to a carefully curated and accredited global player network.”

Armscor is the AAD 2024 host, taking over from the SA Aerospace Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD), which hosted AAD 2022. AAD is presented in partnership with AMD, Arsmcor, and the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA), in collaboration with the South African Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DOD).

Organisers pointed out that the economic impact that the AAD has on South Africa’s economy is significant. International visitors to AAD 2022 contributed over R135 million to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while public and trade visitors generated R150 million in revenue. R65 million of taxation revenue was raised and more than 1 350 jobs created.