Dear AMD Members, ordinarily a New Year marks a new beginning and renewal for the future, however we begin 2021 with enhanced uncertainty with regards to the sustainability for both the defence industry as well as the broader economic landscape in South Africa and around the world. The recovery from the impact of the pandemic is not as anticipated, with South Africa unfortunately hit with a second wave of the Covid-19 virus.

Highlights from 2020

It is also at the beginning of the year that we reflect and take stock of the previous year. 2020 was not an easy year as the local defence budget had been cut, the SADI was further affected by NCACC permit delays which halted members’ ability to export.

On a positive note, AMD had been able to actively participate in the Public-Private Partnership Growth Initiative (PPGI) which led to the reopening of economy during the adjusted phased strategy in April 2020. The association also completed the Aerospace & Defence master plan process during the AMD Board Session in October 2020.

The NCACC task team established by the AMD Board comprising member representatives, worked tirelessly with the DCAC office to ensure that the permit backlog was resolved and that permits were issued. A number of the Arms Control issues relating to End User Certificates (EUC’s) mainly to the Middle East were also resolved.

Under the prevailing circumstances, AMD continued to engage with key strategic stakeholders to strengthen the SADI’s position as an industry critical to the success of the South African Economy. Over the past few months, AMD engaged successfully with the South African Presidency, the State Security Agency, the JCPS Cluster, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence as well as Brand South Africa.

AMD was also been able to remain agile and adapt to the new normal to ensure that the association continues to engage with its members. In July 2020, AMD successfully hosted its first virtual AGM and all traditional conferences, namely the Sovereign Security Conference as well as the AMD Conference, were moved to an online platform, this afforded an opportunity for members to engage on various topics that affect the SADI. AAD was also able to host a virtual conference in October 2020 following the cancellation of AAD 2020.

2021 AMD Board Outlook

The South African Defence Industry (SADI) stands at the cross-roads – one road leading to assured disruption amidst uncertainty and the other leading to stability and growth. It falls upon our Board as South Africa’s only recognised defence industry association, to lead the SADI out of this quagmire.

The Acting Executive Director, Mr Sandile Ndlovu, is completing engagements with AMD members to identify the priority actions that will ensure the survival of our industry. With this context, our board will embark on a Strategic Planning Session in early February with the focus of repositioning the South African Defence Industry and crafting a strategy to take the SADI out of its current state. If we are to increase opportunities locally and get support for exports, we must be positioned in line with the implementation of the Aerospace and Defence master plan and take on tasks that are going to benefit our members and the entire defence industry. A rising tide lifts all boats.

2021 Planned Activities – International Exhibitions, Conferences, In & outbound Missions

2021 will unfortunately see more exhibitions being postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic. As is stands, the SADI will not be participating at IDEX 2021 in the United Arab Emirates next month under a National Pavilion funded by the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic). Although efforts were made to motivate for our participation in this much anticipated exhibition, the dtic took a decision to withdraw from this event due to continued Covid-19 uncertainties. Additional exhibitions such as LAAD 2021 in Brazil and Paris Airshow 2021 have been cancelled by the organisers. AMD anticipates international exhibitions to resume during the third quarter of 2021.

Inbound and outbound activities have been further affected. The AMD Office received formal correspondence from Defence Foreign Relations advising that all inbound and outbound activities remain prohibited until further notice. This also lead to the cancellation of the planned local Aerospace and Defence Trade Show (ADTS 2021) scheduled to take place in March 2021 at Lanseria International Airport. The association will continue to seek alternative platforms to promote the industry and the SADI will be kept informed with latest developments and upcoming activities.

In closing we urge the South African Defence Industry to remain resilient as South Africa continues to fight the battle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

I would like to thank you for your continued support and as we set out new goals for the year, we look forward to serving our members and the greater defence community in working together.