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Africa and the Middle East

Africa region brief

Africa is a diverse continent of great dynamism and economic potential. African nations are important partners in a rules-based international system that, as emphasised in the Foreign Policy White Paper, is critical to global economic growth, security and human development. The Australian Government is committed to long-term ties of friendship and cooperation with the countries of Africa and is acknowledged as a valued partner.

Political and diplomatic ties

Australia has diplomatic relations with all 54 African UN-member states.

Australia has established ties with regional African organisations-accredited to the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Southern African Development Community, the East African Community, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

We have memorandums of understanding with the African Union Commission as well as individual African countries covering a range of issues from science and technology to sports cooperation.

High-level bilateral meetings between Australian and African leaders, Ministers and officials drive our engagement. Australian Ministers and senior officials have attended annual African Union Summits as well as high-level events such as Mining Indaba in South Africa and Australia-Africa Week held annually in Perth.

Trade and investment

Economic diplomacy is at the core of the Foreign Policy White Paper and the Australian Government's approach to international engagement. DFAT is leading the Government's economic diplomacy agenda bringing together Australia's foreign affairs, trade, development and other international economic activities, to deliver greater prosperity for Australia, our region and the world. Australia has a clear national interest in the security, stability and prosperity of Africa.

The annual Australia-Africa Week brings together a range of conferences and events focused on promoting and strengthening Australia-Africa relations, including the Australia-Africa Universities Network forum, the Africa Down Under Mining Conference and the Africa-Australia Infrastructure + Technology Conference. In 2019, Australia Africa Week was held in Perth from 1 to 7 September. In 2020 it will be held in Perth from 30 August to 5 September. Australian investment in Africa is thriving, particularly in the resources sector. There are over 170 ASX-listed companies operating in 35 countries in Africa.

Australia's two-way goods and services trade with Africa was valued at $11.4 billion in 2018.

For more information on doing business and opportunities in Africa please see the Austrade website.

Development cooperation

The Australian Government provided an estimated $136.6 million in total Official Development Assistance to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2019-20.

Australia's funding to Africa supports the Foreign Policy White Paper agenda to broaden our international influence in support of stability, prosperity and cooperation to address global challenges. Our program builds people-to-people links, supports inclusive economic growth, provides humanitarian assistance to vulnerable groups and promotes gender equality.

Australia has a clear national interest in the security, stability and prosperity of Sub-Saharan Africa. African countries are important in global economic and political terms, including in relation to economic growth, trade liberalisation, agricultural productivity and food security and addressing trans-national crime. Many African economies are growing, presenting increasing opportunities for trade and investment-led development gains. Australia is developing strong economic partnerships with African states, including through targeted development assistance.

More information on development assistance to Sub Saharan Africa.

Peace and security

Australia is the 11th largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget. Australian Defence Force personnel are currently serving in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). We have also provided financial and logistical support for the African Union's Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

The Australian Defence Force is also assisting the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, Egypt. In the past, Australian personnel have served in UN missions in Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Western Sahara and Namibia.

Outside of the peacekeeping sphere, Australia and African countries also cooperate on a range of defence and peace and security matters. Since 2011, Australia has deployed a Defence Attaché to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Australia provides annual training to African Defence personnel with a peacekeeping focus. We also cooperate with countries in the Horn of Africa, and with organisations such as the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Centre for Safety and Security at Sea (REFLECS-3) on anti-piracy measures. Australia contributes a naval ship to international maritime security operations in the Gulf of Aden. Australia contributes to the UN Peacebuilding Fund. It provides fast, flexible funding to address drivers of conflict and build sustainable peace. Over two-thirds of the funds are provided to Africa.

We continue to engage closely on peace and security issues in Africa.

Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations

The Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations (AGAAR) was launched by the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop, on 4 September 2015. AGAAR is tasked with informing Australia's engagement and policies on Sub-Saharan Africa.

AGAAR's membership reflects the broad nature of the contemporary relationship between Australia and the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. Its members are drawn from business, academia, civil society and the public sector.

Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations website

Members of the Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations

Collaboration opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa

There are several ways to become involved in Australia's development cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa and with other developing countries. See the AusTender website for opportunities.

Direct Aid Program (DAP)

The Direct Aid Program (DAP) [insert hyperlink] is a small grant scheme that partners with various organisations to support projects which directly contribute to the welfare and the income-generating capacity of poor or disadvantaged groups, or enhance the long-term productivity and sustainability of the physical environment. For more detail on DAP in Africa, see the Australian mission's website in the relevant country.

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