At a breakfast media briefing by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, the Hon Ms Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa- Nqakula, ahead of the opening of the Africa Aerospace and Defence industries’ exhibition, emphasised the potential of growth for AAD and of the work of the National Defence Industry Council. The new council is seen as a crucial role player in determining the trajectory of the local industry in future.
She expressed her pride in the current AAD exhibition with its more than 440 exhibitors from 34 countries and said “true to the theme for this edition of ‘Unleashing Africa’s Defence and Aerospace Potential’ we have, for the first time, been honoured by the establishment of an African [Union] Pavilion. In this, no less than six of our continental partner nations are exclusively exhibiting”. However she then spoke more about how the influence of the exhibition should be expanded further.
She referred to the establishment of a Transformative Enterprise Development Programme through the Council for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR): “Through this initiative we are currently incubating five black companies and intend to support them from research and development to industrialisation in various technology areas ranging from photonics, ICT and radar technologies.”
There is a need for the government and the industry to promote the representation of the demographics of South Africa, including an emphasis on women in the industry. She sees small, medium and micro enterprises and the black defence industry component growing and entering more into the mainstream. She called on companies in the defence sector to widen black ownership and participation in the industry.
AAD should also not be only about South Africa, it should represent African interests. For this reason, the African Pavilion at AAD this year is very significant. African countries have potential and should be encouraged to showcase what they have. There could be a growing number of partnerships with companies in different African countries. As an example, she referred to the upgrade of the Rooivalk platform and said: “For this purpose, and in line with the global trend of collaborative defence programmes, we are willing to engage with like-minded partner nations in the areas of risk- sharing co-development and co-production as we upgrade this platform.’’