“Unlocking Africa’s Aerospace and Defence Potential”
Africa at times is a continent stewing in discontent and danger, rapid government changes, with outsider influences inflaming ancient tribal feuds, as well as manipulation of natural resources for the benefit of others. The rich natural resources call to the nations of the industrialized West, and now the East, as a place to do business. This is not always at the benefit of the African country targeted for such “Business.”
There are some very radiant stars in the countries of Africa; places that have seen almost a Renaissance of education, production, the Arts and the betterment of their people. Botswana comes to mind as in the early stages of this, as do others like Gabon. One shining spot in the Southern continent is, and has been, South Africa.
On almost every level, this country is moving forward. Certainly there are internal problems, age-old resentments, questions about government over-stepping its boundaries (who doesn’t have that issue?) and dangerous areas one is ill-advised to go to. Unemployment is higher than one would like, but these basically normal hazards of today’s world aside, the industrial base is moving forward quite rapidly.
A jewel in the international defense industry is the trade show African Aerospace & Defence, held every two years. Many countries come to show their wares for Land, Sea and Air warfare, but the indigenous manufacturers shine as well. There are many local arms builders such as Truvelo Armoury, Milkor and Ripple Effect and some concentrated into the private company Denel SOC (actually, all shares are owned by the South African government). Divided into a variety of divisions, Denel PMP for ammunition, Denel ISM, Denel Vehicle Systems, Denel Dynamics, Denel Mechem, Denel Aerostructures, Denel OTR, Denel Aviation, Denel Technical Academy and others, the main one that concerns SADJ is Denel Land Systems. That is where the small arms are, and there is an amazing offering of them. Land Systems is in charge of infantry systems, artillery gun systems and combat turrets, as well as small arms. www.denel.co.za
The fact is that AAD is one of the best shows on the planet; it certainly has the displays and following among attendees, and it’s just about the only show in town—African defense shows are few and far between and concentrated more up to the Middle East. To say that most of Africa shows up would be an understatement. 33,862 attendees were there for the first three days of the Trade part of the show, and on the weekend, the two days of the Air Show logged 56,924 attendees from 105 countries (it was open to non-trade, families, etc., so if you’re exhibiting, be prepared to enjoy the air show, but exhibit to a different crowd on those two days).
There were 532 Exhibitors set up to display, from 34 countries including 13 National pavilions. 86 aircraft were on display on the airfield.
Perhaps more importantly, there were over 75 official delegations, including Ministers of Defense, Chiefs of Military and others, from the following countries:
Angola, Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Czech Republic, DRC, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, India, Iran, Japan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, PRC, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Uganda, USA, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
SADJ has had a presence at AAD for many years, and we consider it to be a “must-do” show. Many manufacturers from around the world agree, and at the very least are exhibiting there to attempt to get involved with the larger Denel program as partners, in addition to showing to the African attendees. Generally, the show is divided into about six or seven large aircraft hangers, with displays in between. The Chinese take up a large part of some pavilions, as do the Russians. It really is a diverse experience at the show where you can see many offerings not usually evident at the European or US shows.