Come 28 September the captains of South Africa’s defence industry as well as those who use its products and services will gather for the 2017 edition of the Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Conference.
The speaker programme for the two day event at the CSIR Conference Centre in Pretoria is thought-provoking with an address on the morning of day two by AMD (SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industries Association) chief executive Simphiwe Hamilton. The title of his address is given as “SANDF 25 – Successes and challenges: what has the SANDF achieved in the last 25 years and where is it heading”.
Another speaker sure to gain the attention of the audience is Lulu Mzili, General Manager: Marketing and Business Development at Armscor. Her address is titled “Prioritising Maritime Security. Projects Biro and Hotel to help Africa overcome its maritime security challenges”.
Three of the seven hulls originally envisaged in the two projects have been put on hold, apparently indefinitely, and the maritime service of the SA National Defence Force is now set to increase its fleet by four – three inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) and a new hydrographic platform to replace the ageing SAS Protea.
The cancelled offshore patrol vessels would, along with the IPVs, boost the SA Navy’s patrol capabilities at a lesser cost than using the Valour Class frigates. The extra patrol platforms are seen as being integral to the blue economy sector of Operation Phakisa, a government initiative aimed at unlocking the potential of the seas to add value – and much-needed jobs – to the economy.
With a draft BBEEE charter for the defence industry currently in the public domain for comment and input, this aspect is set to enjoy at least three airings during the conference. An as yet unnamed speaker at the time of publication is set to address the conference on the challenges, threats and weaknesses faced by small businesses in the defence industry and hindrances in supplying parent organisation.
Trevor Mketi of the National Defence Industry Council (NDIC) will talk on SMMEs in the defence industry from a tendering point of view and the deputy director of African consular services in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) is scheduled to tell the conference how the local defence industry can align itself with civil security and defence challenges on the continent.