Australia and Africa

In 2008, the Australian Government instituted a policy of broadening and deepening its engagement with African countries on the basis of shared interests and challenges.

Since then, Australia’s relationships in Africa have progressed considerably. Our political, diplomatic, commercial, defence and other ties have increased substantially.

Political and Diplomatic ties

Since 2008, Australia has established diplomatic relations with all African countries. Australia opened a new Embassy in Ethiopia in 2011, which is accredited to the African Union as well as Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Australia has established ties with regional African organisations – we are now 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 concluded Memorandums of Understanding with the AU Commission, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, the Gambia and Nigeria.

High-level bilateral meetings between Australian and African leaders and Ministers drive our engagement. Australian Ministers and Senior Officials have attended regular African Union Summits regularly since 2008.

Trade and Investment

Australian investment in Africa is thriving, particularly in the resources sector. There are over 200 Australian mining companies with more than 700 projects operating in Africa.

Bilateral merchandise trade with Africa has grown by around six per cent annually over the past decade, to some $9.7 billion.

In recognition of growing business and commercial links, in 2012, the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) appointed a new Trade Commissioner in Accra, Ghana, as part of its broader expansion in the growth areas of West Africa.

Development and Humanitarian Assistance

Australia’s development assistance to Africa has almost quadrupled since 2008. Australian aid to Africa is focused in sectors where Australia has experience and expertise and where Australia is best able to make a difference, including food security and agriculture, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, mining governance and capacity building. Australia is investing in human resource capacity building through the Australia Awards for Africa program – Australia will provide 1000 scholarships to Africa in 2012 and 2013.

Australia has also been responsive to Africa’s humanitarian needs. In 2011-12, Australia provided over $180 million in humanitarian assistance to Africa including in response to the Horn of Africa crisis.

More information on Australia’s development assistance to:

Peace and security

Australia has a long history of supporting United Nations-led peacekeeping operations in Africa. Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police personnel are currently serving in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). We are also supporting the African Union’s Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), by providing equipment and financial support for the mission. 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. In 2011, Australia deployed a Defence Attaché to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Australia provides training to African Defence personnel through a range of courses with a peacekeeping focus. We also cooperate with countries in the Gulf of Guinea and the Horn of Africa on anti-piracy measures. Australia hosted an international counter-piracy conference in Perth in 2012, and has contributed a naval ship to international counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

We are committed to engaging closely on peace and security issues in Africa throughout our term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2013 and 2014, including on the seven current UN peacekeeping missions in Africa.

Australia is also helping to strengthen rule of law and justice systems in Africa, by providing capacity building training and international legal assistance.

We are committed to engaging closely on peace and security issues in Africa throughout our term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2013 and 2014.

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade inquiry into Australia's relationship with the countries of Africa

On Thursday 23 June 2011, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade presented its report entitled, ‘Inquiry into Australia's Relationship with the Countries of Africa’. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade presented a submission to the Inquiry and provided responses to the Committee’s Questions on Notice.

Africa country pages