President Cyril Ramaphosa Opens Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition Event

The president of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening of the Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition, gave a speech at the 10th Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition in South Africa. These were his words:

“Ladies and gentleman,

Welcome to the 10th Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition. This is a truly continental event that allows visitors from more than a hundred countries to interact with more than 500 exhibitors from more than 30 countries.

It brings defence agencies and defence industry together to reflect on the evolution of security – and how they must each adapt to the requirements of the future. South Africa views the role of the military in the modern context as a developmental force, both nationally and continentally.

From a continental perspective this approach implies that the South Africa National Defence Force ought to involve itself, with African partners, in peace missions to improve security in strife torn regions.

Improved security attracts investment, encourages growth and promotes development. In support of continental economic development, the SANDF forms part of the continental military intervention capability, in the form of regional intervention forces as well as the centralised capability under direct control of the African Union.

These intervention capabilities can reduce the risk of major interstate conflict and civil war. From a national perspective the development role of our defence force implies involvement in border safeguarding. The rapidly growing, migrating and urbanising populations are putting economies under pressure.

Data must be collected at border posts and from defence related surveillance technology to allow governments to define and manage trends. Our border safeguarding operation, Corona, also focuses on preventing the illegal exploitation of national resources. In terms of internal security, the defence force must always be ready to provide additional capacity to maintain order and stability within the relevant governance framework.

A defence force that is a developmental force unlocks substantial peace dividends for states and effectively reduces the investment required in defence over time.

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must prioritise socio-economic objectives that provide the best possible future for the youth. Our economy is under pressure and the means available in the fiscus are finite. The South Africa National Defence Force acknowledges is adapting to this economic reality.

Prioritisation within the implementation of our Defence Review focuses on the core roles of the defence force. Several ideas are being explored to modernise the funding model of defence and reduce its dependency on the fiscus.

The leveraging of the economic value of many types of assets of the defence force is under development, alongside improvements in the efficiency of the defence force and the rejuvenation of the defence human resources component.

For both security and developmental reasons, South Africa is looking after its defence industry, which is not only viewed as a Department of Defence asset. It is a national asset that has value for many departments and agencies of government. It innovates products for the greater economy, such as systems that improve the safety of railway lines or improve the efficiency of shark nets.

The common TV decoder in widespread use in South Africa is based on the intellectual property from a military technology project.The industry is an important employer providing 15,000 direct jobs in 120 companies.

It is an incubator of our scarce skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.The industry’s engineers are exposed to production and management practices of the major international players.They thus become assets for the broad economy.

Some of our aircraft-related businesses are expanding in a highly competitive environment as suppliers to the biggest players in the global aircraft industry.The industry is a steady earner of foreign exchange by delivering to the world leading products such as the Husky vehicle for detecting improvised explosive devices.There are many initiatives to maximise the value of the defence industry.

A Defence Industry Strategy was developed by the National Defence Industry Council, taken through public consultation and adopted by the Minister of Defence. A Defence Sector Charter was developed to open space for private participation by small and medium black enterprises.

The Charter, which is currently being finalised by the Department of Trade and Industry, will also regulate broad based black economic empowerment.A defence industry fund was launched in June this year as a funding mechanism for industry.Foreign importers know the value of South African defence products.

South Africa is exporting to 88 countries across the world.Government intends to support the industry to become export driven on the back of international investment, by having a policy stance favouring international joint ventures with local industry.

As a defence industry investment destination, South Africa combines many unique factors.Due to its history, South Africa had a large and independent defence industry. This created a culture of innovation and decades’ worth of intellectual property, only some of which have been converted into products.

Local industry still tends to own the full supply chain necessary for conceptualising and manufacturing their end product.Unlike many international ventures, defence production in South Africa does not imply multinational interdependency.South Africa combines a top order rating for ease of doing business with the most sophisticated and largest manufacturing sector on the continent.

In terms of intellectual property, South Africa is one of less than ten countries that can manufacture missiles of a certain level of sophistication.The development of intellectual property into technology demonstrators is very cost-effective due to the exchange rate between the rand and the major international currencies.Many nations, from different parts of the world, have recently expressed interest in becoming involved in joint ventures with our industry.

The African Aerospace and Defence exhibition offers a massive opportunity for all present to identify areas of synergy and convert them into joint ventures.We are interested in leveraging intellectual property into tangible products and export contracts.We assume that the interest of our visitors here is a good return on investment and we are confident that it can be achieved.

We wish all of you success with your endeavours at this unique event.

It is my privilege to hereby declare the Africa Aerospace and Defence Exhibition 2018 officially open.

I thank you.”