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Development assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa

Australia Awards in Sub-Saharan Africa


Australia's flagship aid investment to Africa is a substantial but targeted Australia Awards Scholarship program. Australia Awards bring many benefits for Australia and recipients' home countries including investment job creation and wealth generation.

Through Australia Awards, we contribute to African leadership and human capacity development in the areas of extractives, agricultural and public policy, where Australia has extensive experience and expertise. By contributing to African leadership and skills development in these fields, Australia Awards are also supporting Australia's national interest in the security, stability and prosperity of Sub-Saharan Africa. Australia Awards have been offered in Africa since the 1960s. Australia funded 336 short and long term awards for African students in 2019.

The Australia Awards program in Africa promotes and supports Australian development and economic diplomacy objectives in Sub-Saharan Africa through:

  • alumni returning from their study in with new skills that help them to contribute to their country's development
  • Australia being recognised and valued by African nations as reliable partner and source of expertise, and
  • relationships formed between Australian and African people and organisations, which strengthens ties and cooperation.

The Australia Awards program to Africa offers Masters scholarships and short course awards to 21 countries. Our focus is on areas where Australia has world class expertise and existing development and economic interests. Australia Awards are open to high calibre, mid-level professional applicants from the public, private and community sectors (civil society). Our goal is to ensure 50 per cent of awards recipients are women and that people with disabilities have equality of access to Awards.

Australia Award Scholarships

Australia Award Scholarships are Masters-level awards undertaken at Australian universities. Australia Award Scholarships contribute to the long term objectives of developing countries by equipping Awardees with the skills and knowledge they need to drive change and achieve sustainable economic growth and social development. Scholarships are offered to emerging leaders from eligible countries in a variety of fields aligned with national development priorities and in which Australia has world class expertise.

Australia Awards in Africa short courses

The Australia Awards in Africa short courses are tailored short (usually 6-8 weeks) post-graduate courses in sectors where Australia has recognised expertise and which are areas of priority to partner governments (agriculture, extractives and public policy). They are delivered through Australian registered training organisations, in partnership with African institutions, to 21 countries. Short courses also provide awardees with a broader set of skills and appreciation for gender equity, inclusive development, good governance, ethics and transparency.

The ocean is the classroom - Australia Awards participants learn about sustainable fisheries

A group of 30 participants from several African countries were selected to undertake the Ocean Management: Sustainable Fisheries and Governance short course, in 2018. The course was taught by some of the world's leading experts in oceans and fisheries governance, in Australia and Mauritius. Participants came from African government ministries, NGOs and the private sector and took part in the eight-week course to improve their knowledge on oceans and fisheries governance. In addition, the course aims to enhance participants' soft skills such as leadership, negotiation, project management and public speaking.

The training forms part of an effort to strengthen ties between Australia and Africa, through collaborations between the University of Wollongong's (UOW) Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) and the University of Mauritius, under the Australian Government's Australia Awards.

Group of people looking at fish in a tank
Participants visit the Cookabarra Farm in Port Stephens NSW and hand feed a tank of large barramundi brood stock fish, used to produce eggs. Credit: Professor Alistair McIlgorm.
Group of people looking at hydroponic lettuce
Participants at the adjacent Cookabarra hydroponic facility that uses water from the Cookabarra Farm to water the lawns, grow hydroponic lettuce and vegetables. Credit: Professor Alistair McIlgorm.

The course ended in Mauritius, where the focus was on fisheries management in Africa. Participants visited the marine park and tuna cannery and took part in a symposium on the Blue Economy, Fish Trade and Leadership jointly hosted by the Australian High Commission, Mauritius, and the University of Mauritius.

Woman accepting award
Ms Beth Wagude (Kenya),H.E Jenny Dee, High Commissioner Mauritius and Professor Alistair Mcilgorm at the reception and award presentation of the " African Blue economy – Fish Trade and leadership symposium" (Sept 3rd 2018, Port Louis). Credit: Professor Alistair McIlgorm.

The course provided participants with valuable context, professional development and a chance to learn about the world of fish trade, as well as relevant international developments, affecting their nations in Africa.

Australia Awards Alumni

Australia Awards alumni represent an engaged and influential global network of leaders, advocates and change-makers. African alumni of Australian Government scholarships are a growing number occupying senior positions in government, regional organisations and in key commercial sectors. Australia Awards will continue to strengthen these enduring people-to-people links.

The Australia Awards Alumni Ambassador initiative taps into the enormous potential of alumni by forming a cadre of volunteer champions across the continent committed to promoting and representing the Australia Awards program in Africa and further raising the profile of Australia in Africa. There are currently 24 alumni associations across Africa. We offered ten training opportunities to support 215 alumni in 2018, nine of which took place in Africa.

The Australia Awards in Africa Women in Leadership Network provides professional development to women alumni with 452 registered members from 37 African countries.

Group photo of 40 women
H.E Alison Chartres, High Commissioner Kenya, with participants from the Women in Leadership Network (WILN) Training held in Nairobi, March 2019. Credit: Palladium

Opportunities for people living with disabilities

Edmore Masendeke at a desk
Australia Awards alumnus Edmore Masendeke from Zimbabwe, at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe where he works as an economist. Credit: Adrenalin Advertising.

Zimbabwean alumnus Edmore Masendeke works for the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank. He is a published author, economist, disability activist as well as a person living with cerebral palsy. In 2010, he founded Endless Possibilities, a non-profit organisation that coordinates awareness campaigns for the inclusion of disabled people as well as empowerment programs for people with disabilities.

While completing a Short Course Award on Macroeconomic Management for Resource-Rich Countries in 2017, Edmore gained knowledge on inclusive development that emphasised the need for economic policies to be inclusive. Following the completion of the short course, Edmore wrote a paper advocating for the inclusion of disability in the Reserve Bank financial inclusion strategy. He also mobilised stakeholders within the disability sector to engage the Reserve Bank on the issue. Subsequently, the Bank adopted disability as one of the strategy's thematic focuses and established a loan facility for people with disabilities.

In 2018, through Endless Opportunities, he started an accessible housing project for people living with disabilities. His organisation began renovating houses in Dzivarasekwa, a suburb located in Harare, to make housing more accessible, safe and convenient for people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Edmore not only embodies the name of his organisation, but he continues to leverage opportunities, which can help him improve his organisation as well as expose him to technology that enhances the living conditions for people with disabilities. The Australia Awards has enabled him to dream big for himself and his community. "Positive change is inevitable," he says as he continues to advocate for people with disabilities to be viewed as individuals capable of living a full and healthy life.

How to apply

Eligibility criteria for Australia Awards in Africa may differ from country to country. For more details on the application guidelines and eligibility, visit the Australia Awards in Africa website.

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Last Updated: 23 October 2019
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