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Advisory Group on Australia-Africa relations (AGAAR) strategy recommendations - DFAT Response

3 October 2019

The Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations (AGAAR) was launched by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop, on 4 September 2015. AGAAR has been tasked with informing Australia’s thinking and policies on Africa.

AGAAR’s membership reflects the broad nature of the contemporary relationship between Australia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its members are drawn from business, academia, civil society and the public sector.

In 2016, AGAAR prepared a Strategy for Australia’s engagement with Africa providing advice and 23 recommendations for advancing Australia-Africa relations (available on DFAT website). The following table reflects the Australian Government’s response to the 23 recommendations.

AGAAR Recommendation DFAT response Comment  Status of implementation

Recommendation 1:  Build a strategic approach matching Australia’s specialised offering with opportunity and need based on the following key agendas: 

  1. Expanding trade and investment ties;  
  2. Building a sustainable partnership on development; 
  3. Strengthening security; 
  4. Cooperating on global issues; 
  5. Strengthening the position of women;
  6. Developing closer people-to-people ties. 
Agreed These key agendas align with Australian Government Foreign Policy White Paper priorities. Ongoing
Recommendation 2: Explore ways to consolidate and grow Australia’s role in the existing sectors at forefront of our trade and investment activities namely: mineral and oil/gas exploration and production; Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS); and education services and expand into new areas such as agribusiness, renewable energy and professional services. Agreed Economic diplomacy, trade outreach and advocacy are priorities for DFAT and Austrade. Ongoing
Recommendation 3:   Support expanded research into new and innovative areas for increasing two-way and multinational trade and investment with Africa.  Agreed in principle Australian Government agencies are working continuously to increase two-way trade and investment. Ongoing
Recommendation 4:  Support strong collaboration between Australian universities, DFAT’s innovationXchange and research institutions such as ACIAR and CSIRO to develop initiatives that encourage innovation, particularly where Australia has recognised expertise such as agriculture and environmental management. Agreed in principle As resources permit. Ongoing
Recommendation 5:  Organise regular trade and investment delegations to Africa, led by senior political personalities to identify and promote opportunities, outside the established trade and investment events. Agreed Austrade organise regular trade events in Africa. DFAT recognises that political engagement brings for bilateral relationships. DFAT will continue to consider opportunities for parliamentary visits to and from Africa that support the Government’s priorities.   Ongoing
Recommendation 6:  Increase two-way exchanges for African and Australian political and thought leaders and journalists, including through the Special Visits Program, the International Media Visits Program and emerging dialogues like the Aus-Africa Dialogue pioneered by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and the Brenthurst Foundation. Agreed DFAT will continue to look for opportunities to increase two-way exchanges.  Noting the International Visits Program held during Australia-Africa Week 2018, and the Nigerian Special Visits Program, March 2018. Ongoing
Recommendation 7:  Maintain the Australia Awards Program as a key vehicle to assist African countries build their capacity to deliver sustainable development. Agreed   Ongoing
Recommendation 8: Develop a targeted funded program of defence and national security cooperation with key African countries, to strengthen cooperation in common security challenges. Noted The Australian Government supports initiatives to strengthen security and stability in Africa, where resources permit and in line with strategic priorities.  
Recommendation 9:  Build a sustainable partnership on development through the return of bilateral aid $100 million per year and thereafter be retained at a constant percentage of the total aid budget, with additional funding for humanitarian responses. The focus of the aid program should be Southern and Eastern Africa, including Ethiopia and South Sudan. Noted Australia’s total expected Official Development Assistance in 2019-20 is $119 million for Africa.    
Recommendation 10: Build cyber resilience programs in Australian companies working in Africa and with their African partners. Noted Australia’s cyber cooperation program is focused on promoting a peaceful and stable online environment and improving cyber resilience in Pacific island and ASEAN countries.   
Recommendation 11:  Conduct deeper engagement and combined effort in dealing with global issues with African nations, through better use of multilateral groupings such as the Commonwealth, the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the African Union. Agreed Australia seeks active engagement with African countries in multilateral bodies in pursuit of shared interests. Ongoing
Recommendation 12:  Appoint and deploy Special Envoys to engage Africans on key issues and candidacies in their capital cities to supplement regular dialogues with African representatives at international meetings and multilateral posts Noted Australia will consider on a case by case basis subject to resources.  
Recommendation 13:  Increase support for people to people links, including expansion of the Australia Awards Program and a well-resourced African alumni program to cover both privately funded and scholarship students. Partially agreed Continuous Australian Government efforts to build people-to-people links provides ongoing support for Australia-Africa alumni engagement. Ongoing
Recommendation 14:  Develop innovative ideas to involve and leverage the significant African diaspora community in Australia to strengthen the country’s links with Africa, including through: the establishment of a “Diaspora Unit” in DFAT as a focal point; and the evaluation of best practices of other host countries which have implemented successful diaspora programs. Partially agreed DFAT uses a range of means to engage diaspora including at Australia-Africa Week, and through targeted outreach and support for the University of Western Australia’s Africa Research and Engagement Centre (AfREC) and the Australia National University’s Africa Network website. Ongoing
Recommendation 15:  Strengthen the position of women through the integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment into the other 5 priority areas identified within this strategy.   Agreed Gender equality and women’s empowerment are priorities for the Australian Government.  Ongoing
Recommendation 16:  Explore multinational collaboration (including non-traditional partner countries such as China and India) and international organisations to better leverage limited resources Partially agreed Australia is open to collaboration with a range of partners in Africa.  For example MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey, Australia). Ongoing 
Recommendation 17:  Establish a database of the wide range of Australian engagement and activities in Africa to improve the opportunity for synergies within and across the multiple sectors.   Noted Resource constraints prevent full implementation of this recommendation. Under review
Recommendation 18:  Assume a long term and sustainable approach to AGAAR’s activities in Africa and invest in stable funding arrangements for trade and investment promotion, Defence and Counter Terrorism cooperation and development programs.   Partially Agreed Subject to annual budget appropriation. Ongoing
Recommendation 19:  Review the possibility of increasing the number of diplomatic posts in Africa, priority in the medium term be given to opening a post in Francophone Africa and over the longer term consider a series of criteria for new posts including concentration of economic interests, reciprocal representation in Australia and where strong diaspora links are present. Noted The Government keeps the scope and distribution of Australia’s diplomatic network under regular review. Since 2013, the Government has announced 20 new diplomatic posts – the largest expansion of the diplomatic network in over 40 years.  While the bulk of the expansion has taken place in our own region, the Government opened a new Australian Embassy in Morocco in 2017.  Ongoing
Recommendation 20:  Ensure existing Posts be funded to undertake the wide range of activities across the many countries of resident and non-resident accreditation to ensure people to people connections as key delivery mechanism to build Australia’s relations in Africa.   Agreed   Ongoing
Recommendation 21:  Develop a flagship initiative on strengthening of the position of women in Africa to be funded under the bilateral aid program, building on lesson learned from programs in other regions such as Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development and the Investing in Women Initiative in Asia. Noted Gender quality will continue to be a principle of all development activities.  
Recommendation 22:  Increase cooperation particularly on key issues such as: counter terrorism; practical training for African peacekeepers as part of Australia’s ongoing commitments to peacekeeping in the continent; and on law enforcement matters which have direct relevance to our commercial interests, including money laundering, narcotic trafficking and malign cyber behaviour. Agreed In June 2019, DFAT funded the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra to deliver two regional workshops to enhance security agencies counter terrorism capabilities. Ongoing
Recommendation 23:  Continue to support programs in Africa though Australian NGOs delivery model that has been proven successful in the past. Agreed    Ongoing
Last Updated: 3 October 2019

Category: People-to-people

Regions: Africa and the Middle East