Overview of Australia’s aid program to Sub-Saharan Africa

How we are helping

2013/14 Actual:
$254.4 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate:
$186.9 million

Australia has a clear national interest in the security, stability and prosperity of sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the world's most rapidly growing regions, its development and economic prospects remain positive. The high rates of growth and increased political stability are creating opportunities for Australian trade and investment, particularly in the mining sector. Australia’s development assistance program to Sub-Saharan Africa aims to reduce poverty, promote inclusive growth and create jobs through supporting productive sectors of the economy. The aid program is focused on areas in which Australia possesses expertise and a comparative advantage to deliver investments where they are most needed; where they can drive productive growth; and where they best align with Australia’s trade and foreign policy objectives.

Sub Saharan Africa is a diverse region, and the development context and challenges differ dramatically between countries. As a whole Africa is the poorest continent in the world: it has 33 of the world's 48 least developed countries and almost half the continent (more than half a billion people) lives in extreme poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind other regions in Millennium Development Goal progress, and is unlikely to meet any of its goals. Despite impressive rates of economic growth in many African countries, poverty levels remain high and the benefits of this growth are not shared equitably.

The goal of the Australian aid program in Sub-Saharan Africa is to assist African people to achieve more equitable access to the benefits of economic growth. Our aid is investing in sectors that drive economic growth, trade and job creation primarily in eastern and southern Africa. We will deliver activities that boost agricultural productivity and markets, improve the management of the extractives sector and its revenues, and build the skills and knowledge of individuals to contribute to Africa’s development.

Extractives for growth

Australian aid is supporting enabling environments to attract and retain investment. We are building skills to regulate and manage the extractives sector to give business increased certainty, while improving mining revenue management and overall governance. Our assistance draws on Australia’s highly relevant expertise, which we then share with our African partners. We are also partnering with governments, industry and communities to ensure the benefits of mining are shared equitably.

Extractives for growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Agricultural productivity

Australia is supporting market development to promote growth and improve livelihoods. Our program focuses on better research and innovative technology adoption, and on boosting private sector activity. Australia is sharing highly relevant technical, research and agri-business expertise, including through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Agricultural productivity assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa

Australia Awards

Australia is investing in human capacity and African leadership through a substantial but targeted Australia Awards program. Australia Awards will complement our other initiatives and will focus on extractives, agricultural productivity and public policy. The Australia Awards program in Africa has a strong focus on gender equality, women’s leadership and participation and disability inclusiveness.

Australia Awards in Sub-Saharan Africa

Civil society engagement

Australia is engaging with non-government organisations (NGOs) to provide community based interventions to poor and marginalized people in Africa. Support to NGOs in Africa is primarily through the Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme, the Australia NGO Cooperation Program and the Direct Aid Program.

Engaging with civil society in Sub-Saharan Africa

Humanitarian assistance

Australia is a responsive and responsible provider of humanitarian assistance to communities in Africa affected by crises. Most crises in Africa are multi-faceted, often involving food insecurity, political instability, armed conflict and displacement. Where possible, DFAT links our life-saving assistance to longer-term efforts to build resilience in communities exposed to protracted crises.

Our results

  • Australia is helping to improve the capacity of Africans, particularly in the extractives and agricultural sectors. In 2013-14, the Sub-Saharan Africa aid program provided training, technical assistance and study tours to African government officials. In addition, the program provided 974 Australia Award long and short course scholarships across 51 countries, predominantly in extractives and agricultural productivity.
  • 43,939 poor men and women gained access to and were using agricultural technologies and Australia assisted 210,836 poor women and men to increase their access to financial services.
  • Australia worked to improve the lives of Africans living in poverty by increasing access to safe water for 375,577 women and men, and basic sanitation to 158,850 women and men. Australia aid also assisted 71,972 women to give birth with a skilled birth attendant present.
  • Australia is a responsive provider of humanitarian assistance and in 2013-14 provided through our trusted partners over 3.5 million instances of life saving assistance.


Two women standing in a field, talking and holding a book
Beth Wanjero talks to an adviser from the sustainable development initiative about points raised in the training manual relating to her farm near Gilgil, Kenya (credit: DFAT).
Nejjemba Teopista, farmer of Kayunga and farmer's group animator, holding her hoe after working in a communal garden at Kangulumira where food is grown to feed the poor and sick
Nejjemba Teopista, farmer of Kayunga and farmer's group animator, holding her hoe after working in a communal garden at Kangulumira where food is grown to feed the poor and sick (credit: Sean Sprague, CARITAS).