Address by the minister of defence and military veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, on the occasion of the official media breakfast of the Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (AAD) 2018, Waterkloof Air Force Base Hangar 7, Pretoria, 17 September 2018.
The Secretary for Defence, Dr Sam Gulube
Chief of the South African National Defence Force, General Solly Shoke
Members of the Military Command Council
Representatives of state departments and Agencies
Captains of Defence Industries
Members of the media
Under the theme Unlocking Africa’s Aerospace and Defence Potential, I welcome our media friends, AAD media partners, CAASA as the host partner this year, members of the DOD, and other distinguished guests.
This year the 10th AAD Exhibition takes place against the backdrop of our nation commemorating the centenary of the births of President Nelson Mandela and Mama Sisulu. We remember them fondly: for their great contribution towards the democracy we are sharing in this country and for bringing our people together in peace. For this reason, we have renamed the Hangar one, which is popular as government precinct the “Madiba Hangar”. We invite you to visit this hangar and join us and the rest of the country in remembering the first commander in chief of the South African National Defence Force.
AAD is the largest defence and aerospace exhibition in Africa and the ONLY one of its kind, boasting the successful format of a combined exhibition of air, sea and land technologies, a static aircraft display and an air show.
Interestingly, as you would have noticed in the AAD logo all around us, it is now 20 years since we first staged this event in this format. It gives me great pleasure to state that this 10th edition aims to bring together the largest gathering of aerospace and defence industry decision makers and buyers from around the world, including many from Africa.
It is always vital that we recognise the impact of our industry: which many would say we don’t need an armaments industry and some would even query the value of Defence.
But let us be clear: as much as all countries protect their sovereignty, so does South Africa. In this regard, the SANDF plays a constitutionally mandated role to secure our nation. And that is supported by the entire industry that would gather during the five days of AAD.
In support of the armed forces and peacekeeping, our local industry plays a key role. This is outlined in minute detail in the Defence Review 2015 and numerous policy documents. The DOD gives effect to supporting the industry, some part of which we consider to be strategic.
In like manner, the defence industry – and by that I include aviation in its widest sense – plays a key role in economic development of our country. What might not be so obvious at first glance, is that the economic footprint of our industry stretches far beyond just the contribution to the country’s GDP.
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, by unlocking Africa’s Aerospace and Defence potential, we contribute to stability and growth on our continent: South Africa is a peaceful country that lives in harmony with its neighbours. In fact, we maintain a credible military force to secure our own sovereignty, as I’ve stated, but also to assist our friends in Africa to enjoy peace and stability. For that reason, we continue to do our duty in peace support, as part of multilateral initiatives by the United Nations and the African Union.
What I am particularly pleased to see at this impressive event, are the skills and resources that we employ in this regard. Besides the men and women in uniform, trained to be vigilant in protecting and securing our airspace and maritime zones, the technologies involved are overwhelming.
We are all aware of the growing threat to cyber-security. It is paramount that efficient, powerful and cost-effective cyber-defence and solutions be implemented to protect the critical information infrastructure. At this 2018 event, AAD in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch together with our key industry players will present a platform to unravel key issues on cyber security. We invite all cyber war specialist to register and be a part of the conversation and crafting a solution.
On an equally important front: Natural and man-made disasters remain a reality that could have catastrophic consequences for our country and our neighbours. Some of this is attributable to increased global warming. We need to play our part in combatting this problem, and it is critical that defence should remain mandate-driven in all its actions.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Allow me a moment to run you through the statistics of AAD2018:
We are expecting over 300 exhibitors representing 37 countries.
I am pleased that the organisers have invited 175 official delegations from 47 different countries, of which 90 are expected to attend.
These include invitations to ministers, deputy ministers and chiefs of defence, as well as significant numbers of chiefs of air force, navy and army.
Some of you present here this morning, include the large numbers of local and international media partners from countries such as the UK, Europe, America, Asia and the Middle East. I trust you will find the exhibition and air show worthwhile to cover in your media outlets.
This year the organisers expect 35 000 trade visitors and 80 000 general public visitors on the open days. It is my wish that AAD 2018 will unlock opportunities for the South African Defence industry and the aerospace sector in general.
Lastly, but equally important is the AAD Youth Development Programme (AAD YDP), which has been formed to interactively expose school learners in the higher grades to the aviation and defence sector with a view to consider careers in this high technology environment. Since much of the world has already entered the fourth industrial ear with its nano-technology and artificial intelligence (AI), South Africans should be part of it.
Honourable guests, we brought you this event once again to unlock Africa’s aerospace and defence potential. I invite you visit the exciting displays and engage with the industry and our armed forces. I am sure you will find much at the 10th Aerospace and Defence Exhibition, to interest you. This is cutting-edge technology developed and manufactured in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.
Take the message to your readers and viewers that South Africa is open for business and for partnerships to mutually benefit us all.