As the Director of DAA, from time to time I am asked to serve in an advisory capacity with other organisations. My most recent appointment is to a new body, the Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations (AGAAR).
The Advisory Group will inform the Australian Government’s thinking and policies on Africa through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
I am often struck by how many different ways there are to look at an issue, and AGAAR offers an interesting approach because it’s members represent a diverse range of sectors, including mining, trade, education, international development, cultural and security.
For my part, AGAAR is an opportunity to raise the voice of African diasporas at government level. I will be talking with my colleagues and African diaspora leaders to get their perspective on the current situation and their thoughts on the way forward.
The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced AGAAR at the Africa Down Under conference in Perth last month, saying that the best way to help countries grow their economies and improve living standards is to focus on prosperity.
The size of the mining industry in Africa is staggering: Africa is home to 30 per cent of the world’s mineral resources; in 2014, Australia’s total trade with African countries was $10 billion, and a large part of that was from mining interests.
Many African governments have already recognised that there is great potential to harness the benefits of mining and trade through more equal partnerships, benefit-sharing and community participation in order to meet their countries’ social, economic, environment and infrastructure needs.
AGAAR is chaired by Peter Coleman, the Managing Director and CEO of energy company Woodside, who is also a member of the University of Western Australia Business School Board, the Executive Committee of the Australia Japan Business Co-operation Council, the Australia-India Chief Executive Officers’ Forum and the Advisory Group for Australia-Africa Relations;
Along with myself, other members are:
It is still early days for AGAAR, but I am looking forward to working with this highly experienced and innovative group to enhance Australia’s links with African nations and, hopefully, to help create positive outcomes for African communities.
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