Australia Awards in Sub-Saharan Africa


Australia’s flagship aid investment to Africa is a substantial but targeted Australia Awards Scholarship program. 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. Australia Awards have been offered in Africa since the 1960s. Australia will fund 440 scholarships to African students in 2017.

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

  • alumni returning from their scholarship with new skills that help them to contribute to their country's development
  • Australia being recognised and valued by African nations as a strong and 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. Our Awards focus on areas where Australia has world class expertise and existing development and economic interests. Australia Awards are open to high calibre applicants from the public, private and community sectors.

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.

Profile: Zandile Mnisi (Swaziland)

In 2016, Swaziland’s first policy brief on maternal mortality was published primarily to sensitise public health officials on the reasons for the high level of maternal deaths in Swaziland. It was spearheaded by Zandile Mnisi who completed a master’s degree in Research Studies and Epidemiology at the University of Adelaide in 2015 and is now the Research Manager at the Swaziland Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Zandile says she relied on the critical thinking techniques she learnt while on Award. “The skills I gained on critically reviewing articles whilst undertaking my studies in Australia helped me a long way in this exercise.” It is Zandile’s hope that the analysis of maternal death data and subsequent recommendations contained in the review will be adopted to lead to solutions to lower maternal deaths. Importantly, she anticipates that the impact of the findings will be felt widely. Already the brief has helped government to respond to some of the questions about the high maternal mortality rate in Swaziland. The Health Ministry used Zandile’s document to prepare for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State Meeting, which was held in Swaziland in August 2016.

Australia Awards Africa short courses

The Australia Awards Africa short courses are tailored short (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 promote relevance, to approximately 22 countries. Short courses also provide awardees with a broader set of skills and appreciation for gender equity, inclusive development, good governance, ethics and transparency.

Australia Awards Alumni

Australia Awards alumni represent an engaged and influential global network of leaders, advocates and change-makers. There are currently around 6,000 African alumni of Australian Government scholarships, with 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 officially 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. Since January 2016, we have offered over 360 opportunities to our alumni, including 16 regional alumni events.

Deakin University’s Alumni Community Awards

Each year, Deakin University’s Alumni Community Awards recognise, acknowledge and promote prominent Alumni around the world who have achieved outstanding success in their communities, professions or given outstanding service to the University. This year Deakin University hosted a reception in Melbourne on 27 September 2017 for HE George K Zulu the High Commissioner of Zambia (in Canberra) and he was awarded the Alfred Deakin Alumni Award for International Diplomacy for his contribution and commitment to International Diplomacy.

HE George K. Zulu holding his award in front of a Deakin University banner

Profile: Dr Sizwe Phakathi (South Africa)

Dr Sizwe Phakathi participated in the 2014 Emerging Leaders in African Mining (ELAM) Program delivered by the Australian Government funded Australia Africa Partnerships Facility. Dr Phakathi also received an Australia Awards Small Grant in 2015 to conduct research on the safety practices, risks and challenges of informal artisanal miners. The research project was conducted in an open cast mine with informal artisanal coal and clay miners in the community of Blaauwbowsch, KwaZulu Natal province, South Africa.

“The main objective of the research project was to illuminate the voice of informal artisanal miners as participants who can shape intervention programmes rather than passive recipients and beneficiaries who need decisions to be made on their behalf on what their OHS needs are and in what form such needs should be delivered to them,” explains Dr Phakathi.

Dr Phakathi drew on skills and knowledge gained during his ELAM training in Australia. “The skills and knowledge relating to sustainable development of the extractives sector, for the benefit of local mining communities, have helped me a great deal in identifying the research and policy-making gaps that the project sought to address, through the narrative accounts of informal artisanal miners of their safety practices, risks and challenges they faced as they made a living in an open cast mine.” The findings of the research highlighted the potential that the artisanal and small scale mining sector had in addressing the development challenges of poverty, unemployment. It also made calls for the sustainable development of the sector and empowerment of informal artisanal and small scale miners.

Australia-Africa Women’s Forum: shaping the agenda on women’s leadership

Australia Awards launched the African Women in Leadership Network in Monrovia, Liberia, officiated by Liberian President HE Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on 18 March 2013. The network aims to promote the Australian government scholarships to potential female applicants from eligible countries in Africa and support scholarship recipients going to Australia to pursue their post graduate studies.

As part of 2016 International Women’s Day celebrations, Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta launched the Australia Awards supported African Women in Leadership Network forum in Nairobi. 32 female alumni from 14 African countries participated in the forum, themed “Moving Forward: African Women as Self and Workplace Leaders”. The event provided a unique developmental opportunity for aspiring women leaders to deepen their networking and personal leadership experiences and discuss best working practice in leadership in Africa. One of the outcomes from the event was the development of an actionable African Women in Leadership working strategy.

Australia Awards Fellowships

Australia Awards Fellowships are short-term opportunities for study, research and professional attachment in Australia, delivered by Australian organisations. They are currently available across Africa. These fellowships are in addition to those offered under the Australia Awards program to Africa. Further details can be found on our Australia Awards Fellowships page.

Science in Africa – making learning fun

Australia Awards – Africa recently brought a group of 15 African science educators to Canberra to study innovative ways of teaching science for African audiences.

The students, from eight countries in Africa, completed their Australia Awards Fellowships with the Australian National University on 31 May and delivered a performance in the JD Anthony Room on 1 June to demonstrate their new-found skills and knowledge in promoting science and delivering effective science education.

Representing key universities and science centres in eight countries – South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi, Mauritius, Tanzania, Kenya and Zimbabwe – the fellows showcased an engaging approach to teaching science by using ‘magic’ to stimulate curiosity and demonstrate and explain scientific concepts. Highlights included demonstrating the behaviour of charged polystyrene balls, the effects of levers and fulcrums and using air pressure to power a marshmallow cannon.

Dr Graham Walker and the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU, led this skills development program. The fellows further developed key skills in identifying the fundamental elements of scientific theory and devising entertaining formats to engage and inform their audience. Everyday items were used as props to make science fun, engaging and interactive. The Fellows embraced designing and constructing cost-effective props and were keen to share their ideas and designs with other members of the group.

On return to their home institutions, Fellows will share their new skills with fellow science educators and teachers to promote science education and contribute to the achievement of national development goals.

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: 6 November 2017