The access and parking problems experienced by trade day visitors to Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) two years ago will not happen when this year’s exhibition opens for business on September 14.
That’s the word from Kevin Wakeford, chief executive of Armscor, this year’s lead partner for the continent’s largest exhibition of its kind. The state defence and security acquisition agency is partnered with AMD (the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association), CAASA (the Commercial Aviation Association of SA) and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans as the official controlling body of AAD.
He said the lessons of 2014 had been taken to heart and along with infrastructure upgrades and improvements to AFB Waterkloof in Centurion, problems would not happen again.
“We have a plan in place,” he said this week in Thaba Tshwane where two co-operation agreements were signed to further consolidate the standing of the exhibition as an event of national, continental and international importance to the defence and aerospace sectors.
“As far as registration is concerned trade visitors can register online and there will also be real time registration to eliminate delays,” he said, adding there should not be any delays in accessing the exhibition once at entrance booths.
Getting to the actual entrances will also be made easier because infrastructural upgrades have seen improvements to access roads and parking areas around the base.
“We are confident we can handle the expected up to sixty thousand visitors a day forecast for AAD 2016,” Wakeford said.
As far as access and transport is concerned, AAD has entered into a co-operation agreement with the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) that sees Gautrain named AAD’s official transport partner. AAD visitors making use of the high-speed commuter train linking Johannesburg and Pretoria will be able to use Gautrain buses to move freely between the Gautrain’s Centurion station and the air force base.
The AAD/GMA agreement is aimed to ensuring easier access to the exhibition for more people, enhancing the exhibition’s status as Africa’s leading aerospace and defence show.
Wakeford said the agreement would further assist in promoting Gauteng as a destination for investment and tourism.
“AAD is widely regarded as one of the world’s top five defence shows and we now have the opportunity to extend its reach through joint marketing with Gauteng province. Foreign delegations will be encouraged to visit top tourism and leisure attractions and Gautrain buses will bring visitors right to the exhibition gates at AFB Waterkloof,” Wakeford said.
The agreement entered into with the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) will, according to its chief executive, Saki Zamxaka, see more impetus come the way of the local defence industry.
“There is potential for growth in manufacturing, technology and knowledge-based enterprises in Gauteng and AAD will showcase what GGDA has achieved and also lead to new partnerships with companies in the aerospace and defence sectors,” he said, adding export of defence industry products and services would enjoy a high priority.