Expodefensa 2019, which will take place in Bogota, Colombia, 2-4 December, will be the seventh iteration of the defence and security trade fair. MON recently had the opportunity to talk to Patrick Colas des Francs, CEO of COGES, which organizes Eurosatory as well as being a co-organiser of Expodefensa, and to gain some insight into the history, growth and relevance of the exhibition.
Mönch Online News (MON): This year will mark the seventh edition of EXPODEFENSA, could you please tell us how the show has evolved since its conception?
Patrick Colas des Francs (PCF): The idea original concept for Expodefensa came from Mindefensa [the Colombian Ministry of Defence] and CORFERIAS. The first iteration was in 2009 and attracted over 50 exhibitors. It has been growing with every iteration since and by 2015, the year when COGES became a partner to CORFERIAS, the event attracted over 200 exhibitors. In 2017 the record was broken, with 269 exhibitors from all over the world and over 12,500 professional visitors, mainly from Latin America and the Caribbean.
The exhibition’s growth has not simply been in numbers, however, but also in the quality of products and equipment on show. Expodefensa has found an excellent balance in comprehensive presentation of solutions for ground, naval and air forces as well as for police, security, rescue and civil security personnel.
Now, Expodefensa offers solutions to ensure national defense and security, to restore and maintain peace and security and to prevent and combat natural and industrial disasters.
This year we expect further evolution of the exhibition, confirming its pivotal position in the region and we are happy to have Spain as a guest country. Moreover, in 2019, Expodefensa offers a large workshop programme that will cover diverse subjects, including remotely operated systems (ROS), camouflage clothing, governance during military operations, a historical perspective of the armed conflict in Colombia, special forces and new technologies and the role of armed forces in the protection of nature reserves.
MON: Do you feel that, with the increasing importance of the security and defence markets in Latin America and the Caribbean region, Expodefensa is also gaining in significance?
PCF: Indeed, Latin American and Caribbean defence and security markets are very dynamic and, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) figures published this year, reached an expenditure level of $64.2 billion (€58.1 billion) in 2018. Growth forecasts remain high as acquisition programmes expand.
This can be explained by the fact that most Latin American countries are currently experiencing significant economic growth, which can only flourish in a tranquil, secure continent. Moreover, in the sub-continent, 79% of the population lives in urban areas. These big cities coexist with vast rural territories and complex environments, such as the Andes cordillera, the Amazon rainforest, or expanded coastal areas. Therefore, the region faces specific insecurity issues that require specific solutions.
In this way, Expodefensa is gaining significant importance, as THE event in Latin America in the security and defence domains. Proof can be seen in the number of professional visitors, including representatives of the armed, security and emergency forces, not only from Colombia but also international, official delegations and the increase in overall attendance figures.
MON: How do you expect Expodefensa 2019 to contribute to technological development and innovation? Will it facilitate the development of relationships between industry innovators and armed forces?
PCF: Expodefensa 2019 is the international exhibition of reference for Latin America in terms of technological development and innovation for security and the armed forces. It contributes a lot to technological development and innovation in the region, offering the most recent technologies and equipment adapted to the region’s needs. Among the equipment and systems on show this year will be UAVs, bulletproof clothing, optronic, communication and cyber solutions, equipment and systems for naval, police and emergency sectors, logistics and maintenance and many others.
As I mentioned earlier, the exhibition and its ‘innovation’ is strongly supported by Mindefensa, The Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation is part of the Vice-Ministry of Defence for the Defence Social and Business Group (GSED).
Expodefensa is categorically a place for connection between the security and armed forces of Latin American and Caribbean countries and manufacturers from all over the world. Several business tools are provided to participants for networking and for developing business with the support of workshops, communication and press service. The trade fair is a great opportunity for industry innovators to develop their business, to communicate with potential clients, to reinforce international corporate identities and to increase visibility in the dynamic Colombian and Latin American markets.
It also responds to the expectations of governments, critical industries and all private and public authorities in the Latin American region and the Caribbean. The presence of exhibitors from five continents allows them to discover new suppliers and the latest innovations in the sector. Expodefensa is also a great opportunity to develop contacts and to exchange ideas with experts in the domain, to share knowledge, experience and lessons learned. This event is a venue for dialogue and interaction between armed and security forces and their suppliers, showcasing the latest products of the defence and security industries.