The Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition is just around the corner and a draft programme for the “speaking theatre” presentations shows six bookings have been made.
The National Defence Industry Council (NDIC) along with satellite specialist Stellsat, Air BP (a major aviation lubricant supplier), the Czech Republic and host city of Tshwane’s economic development department have reserved times at the theatre in Hangar Six.
No further information was available at the time of publication as to the scope of the presentations and presenters.
The Stellsat website says it is a privately held project company operating in the field of secure satellite telecommunications and infrastructure for commercial and government applications. Its mission is to make more bandwidth available to Southern Africa in line with the 2020 Telecoms ICT white paper’s goals. The Goal of StellSat, its partners and subsidiaries is to achieve rapid, reliable and revolutionary broadband coverage across Southern Africa through proprietary infrastructure.
Air BP incorporates Air BP Fuels and Air BP Lubricants and is one of the world’s largest suppliers of aviation fuels and services. This happens through around 600 locations in more than 45 countries selling over seven billion gallons of fuel a year. The company operates 65 in sub-Saharan Africa.
Other activities during and around AAD 2018 include the Aerospace, Maritime and Defence conference on 18 September at the Southern Sun Hotel in Pretoria; the Cyber Intelligence and Warfare symposium in Hangar 5 on 20 September and the Combat Aircraft Conference on 21 September in Hangar 5.
Figures released last month show the South African defence industry is not in a good space with defence spending dropping by R21 billion in 27 years. Aligned to this is a massive decrease in defence industry employment, from 130 000 in the 1989/90 financial year down to just 15 000 in 2017.
Against this background the industry, led by Armscor and AMD (the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence industries Association) launched the Defence Industry fund (DIF) in July. It will be a vehicle at provide funding for an access to the local defence industry for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMMEs), particularly those owned by blacks, women and the youth.
There are indications the DIF, managed by Crede Capital Partners, will be mounting a national roadshow to make it and its products and services more widely known among the country’s emerging entrepreneurs. At the time of publication no further information was available.
Military analyst Helmoed Heitman maintains more of the limited defence budget has to find its way to research, development and technology demonstrators. This, he said, has to be done at the expense of re-equipping “except where there are actual gaps in capability”.
He also has other advice for the local defence industry including initiating joint ventures with foreign companies and armed forces; becoming part of the supply chains of foreign and international original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and ensuring full government support for exports “as is the case in all leading defence equipment exporters”.