Organisers busy with Africa Aerospace and Defence 2024 preparations

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With less than 18 months to go before the next edition, the organisers of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition are gearing up for the September 2024 event.

The Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor), as a lead partner, the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DOD), the South African Aerospace Maritime and Defence Industries Association (AMD) and the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) gathered at the Gerotek testing facilities outside Pretoria this month to map a way forward.

In a statement following the plenary session at Gerotek on 17 May, the organisers said the AAD 2024 show, set down for 18 to 22 September next year, is set to be bigger and better. “The organising team is eager to surpass the 2022 statistics wherein 203 exhibitors participated, 24 countries exhibited, and 23 043 trade visitors attended from over 76 countries.”

Nakedi Phasha, Marketing and Communication Manager and Acting Exhibition Director, said AAD continues to provide a unique platform to key players in the defence industry to showcase their capabilities to visitors from across the globe. “The biennial exhibition has established itself as a premier defence show that unlocks the country’s economic potential.”

The City of Tshwane is once again the host partner for the exhibition at Air Force Base Waterkloof, which will see energy and space innovation hubs at the 2024 expo.

The organisers describe AAD as the largest biennial defence and aerospace exhibition in Africa. Registration dates for exhibitors and sponsors who are keen to be part of the event will be announced soon.

AAD 2022 saw a drop in numbers compared to the last edition in 2018, largely as a result of the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic that cancelled the 2020 edition. Last year, 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.

There were nine national pavilions in 2022, including China, the USA, Turkey (with two pavilions), Italy, Belgium, and India. This compares to 15 national pavilions in 2018.

African countries were again relatively well represented in the exhibitors’ list, with Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Uganda, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) amongst the 24 countries exhibiting – there were seven African countries that exhibited at the 2018 edition.

Delegations were down slightly, to 51 from 29 countries in 2022, compared to 62 official delegations in 2018. During 2018, over 300 members of the local and international media attended the event to provide coverage, while AAD 2022 attracted 176 accredited local and international members of the media.

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 public days were well attended, with 51 228 general public visitors coming for the air show on the weekend days of 24 and 25 September 2022 – down only slightly from the 55 063 air show visitors in 2018.

AAD 2024 will follow the same pattern as previous events, with three trade days and two air show days along with a static aircraft park, mobility demonstrations for land and air technologies, and conferences and seminars.

While AAD 2022 was smaller than previous editions and did not have as many large foreign defence companies or much of a commercial aviation presence, most feedback was fairly positive, except for concern over the declining local defence budget that is forcing local companies to rely on exports for survival.

With conflict in Ukraine and defence spending on the increase, the 2024 edition will probably see significant growth. Earlier this year, for example, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) revealed that sales of arms and military services by the 100 largest companies in the industry reached $592 billion in 2021, a 1.9% increase compared with 2020 in real terms. It was the seventh consecutive year of rising global arms sales.

SIPRI also revealed that global military expenditure continued to increase last year, remaining well over the $2 trillion mark. Total global military expenditure increased by 3.7% in real terms in 2022, to reach a new high of $2 240 billion. Military expenditure in Europe saw its steepest year-on-year increase (13%) in at least 30 years and was largely accounted for by Russian and Ukrainian spending. Military aid to Ukraine and concerns about a heightened threat from Russia strongly influenced many other states’ spending decisions, as did tensions in East Asia.