Speech at the official opening of the Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (AAD) 2022 by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Thandi Modise

Programme Director;

Ministers and Deputy Ministers;

Representatives of governments;

Distinguished guests;

On behalf of the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Mr Thabang Makwetla; Secretary for Defence, Ambassador Sonto Kudjoe; Chief for the South African National Defence Force, General Rudzani Maphwanya;

Members of the Plenary Defence Staff Council;

Board Members and the Executives of AMD, Armscor and CAASA;

Captains of industry from the South African Defence Industry;

The AAD Organising team;

I welcome you

Ladies and gentlemen;

I am honoured to welcome you to the 11th edition of the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition.

As you are probably aware, AAD is an initiative of the Department of Defence and the defence industry which has been running for twenty years. It is the largest defence and aerospace exhibition in Africa and takes place every two years.  The theme for this year is: “Exploring New Paths, Sharing Solutions and Showcasing Innovation and Capabilities”, AAD seeks to showcase the capabilities of the armed forces from both South Africa and abroad, and this year will be no exception.

This exhibition presents a unique platform that affords visitors from different countries to interact with hundreds of exhibitors from more 24 countries. It also brings together defence agencies and the defence industry under one roof to reflect on developments within the security sector as well as search for interventions necessary to respond to emerging challenges and the demands of the future.

As South Africa, we view the role of the military in the contemporary context as a developmental instrument, both nationally and continentally.

Our view is that safety and security are key prerequisites for economic growth and development and that improved security attracts stability and investment. This encourages growth and promotes development.

Ladies and gentlemen, the defence landscape is in a state of rapid and continuous change. This creates an opportunity for new innovations to sustain and secure the future of the industry. The technological advances that have become such an integral part of our daily lives – like mobile telephones and the TV decoder– all found their genesis from defence technologies.

We believe that the industry has capacity for innovation that can unlock the country’s economic potential and place our economy on a sustained upward trajectory. It is also an important employer providing 15,000 direct jobs in 120 companies. The industry has become an indispensable asset to the broader economy.

The South African defence industry has great potential to be a formidable competitor on the global stage. The 2020 NCACC Annual Report shows that between 1 January and 31 December 2020, South African defence companies received orders for either equipment, services or other expertise from 106 foreign countries. This could have been more but for our adherence to the guidelines and the convention on arms sales.

As a matter of fact, our armoured combat vehicles are a major export commodity to our African countries. I strongly believe that many of the buyers of these vehicles saw and experienced them at previous AAD exhibitions. So, ladies and gentlemen, let us never underestimate the critical importance of this event. It is more than a show. It is more than an exhibition. It is an investment. It brings together peoples from across the globe.

Many nations, from different parts of the world, have expressed interest to get involved in joint ventures with South African companies. AAD offers everyone present a golden opportunity to identify areas of synergy and possible co-operation.

The progress of transformation within the industry, like other facets of our lives, requires urgent and firm attention. Those who are committed to the values of our Constitution and economic justice will appreciate our stance on equality. They will understand our position on representativity.

We would like to take this opportunity to welcome the South African Police Services, SAPS, who during this AAD 2022 are also exhibitors and will show their wares side by side with the defence establishment, over and above the civil responsibility they have for policing which they carry out at all times as part and parcel of their mandate. We welcome you!

In the same vein we welcome the department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), who have always been part of the AAD but during this one, outdid themselves by ensuring a fully-fledged national, South African pavilion, showcasing small and medium enterprises which we hope will grow bigger and better from the connections they will create here with the big players, be they government or private sector. It will also be a good period for exploring and putting forward solutions to the challenges our country is facing.

We must also have deliberate interventions that empower emerging small and medium enterprises who have historically been excluded from the mainstream of our economy. We must strive to widen participation and open the space for South Africans who have been historically excluded from opportunities such as these.

In this regard, as we open the AAD 2022, we must take note and keen interest in the main events that will be unfolding throughout this week. In particular, the following highlights:

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•             RDM Green Hydrogen Solutions launch – which will be critical against the background of challenges of energy we are faced with, globally, nationally and in our households;

•             UAV Conference, which will showcase latest technologies and applications within the security sector, including but not limited to migration control amongst others;

•             ECM Conference symposium;

•             Cyber Security Conference, whose importance cannot be overemphasized in the current situation and threats faced to our security;

•             Air and Space Power Symposium.

•             General Aviation Conference… especially as this is an aviation conference;

•             Medical Conference, which will amongst others focus on aviation medicine, and lastly,

•             AMD 30th Anniversary celebration. On the latter note, we must extend congratulations to the successive years of the AAD since it started

It has indeed grown from strength to strength as witnessed by the contribution to the GDP and growth of the defence industry.

When we sit down to evaluate the success of this event in the near future, I will be keen to hear how our collective investment in this monumental project have contributed to the empowerment of black people, women, youth, people with disabilities and emerging enterprises. We have a collective duty to build a country that truly belongs to all.

Lastly, we welcome our young learners – all 10 00 of you – from across South Africa. May this AAD be a game changer in your lives!

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to officially declare the AAD 2022 officially opened

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

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