Australia to focus on investment in Africa, rather than aid
Rather than focusing on economic aid to African nations, the Australian government’s focus would be on encouraging the private sector to invest in the region, specifically the mining region, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said. Speaking on the last day of the Africa Downunder conference, Bishop noted that the Australian government had been working hard to strengthen trade and business investment partnerships with Africa. Australia’s trade with Africa was worth A$10-billion in 2014, up from A$7-billion in 2009, with Bishop noting that the mining industry was at the forefront of this charge. “Africa is home to 30% of the world’s mineral resources and mining companies have been scaling up their investment in Africa for many years now.
There are more than 200 ASX-listed companies with mining and exploration activities in Africa, and these companies are involved in some 770 projects across 35 countries.” She noted that the total value of Australia’s investment in the African resources sector counted ‘in the order of tens of billions of dollars’, adding that the continent was now firmly imbedded in the global portfolio of several of Australia’s international-focused mining companies, as well as its mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector. “Australia is a world leader in METS and can bring much-needed expertise to local operations overseas. In fact, many Australian companies in this sector identify sub-Saharan Africa as their top export destination.” Bishop on Friday also announced the creation of a new advisory board, which would be chaired by Woodside CEO Peter Coleman, and which would inform the Australian government’s thinking and policies in Africa.
“The expansion of trade and investment links between Australia and Africa will continue to be underpinned by our investment in mining. “Australia’s aid programme has been reshaped in line with our belief that the best way to help countries grow their economies and improve the living standards of their people is to focus on prosperity. “Mining has made, and continues to make a substantial contribution to economic development and poverty alleviation in Africa. And a well managed mining sector can help grant sustainable growth and poverty reduction,” Bishop said.