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The relationship between Australia and Africa is anything but straightforward. While Australia has diplomatic ties with every African state, the continent occupies a sometimes inscrutable position in our foreign policy priorities. For Australia, Africa represents both obligation and opportunity.
Earlier this year, Australia’s foreign aid to Africa was reduced by 70 percent, leading World Vision’s Tim Costello to argue that Australia has effectively abandoned the continent. Yet many regard Africa as the next frontier of the global economy, and Australia’s business and investment interests in Africa are worth tens of billions of dollars. It’s not just about the resources sector, either – Australian involvement in African economies is increasingly reaching into other areas including education, health and the arts.
At a time when China and the US are expanding their involvement and interest in Africa, where does Australia sit? What’s the nature and extent of investment and trade (not to mention private enterprise) in Africa – and why are Australian businesses comparatively slow to invest in African prospects?
Africa Talks host Santilla Chingaipe will speak with expert guests about the opportunities and questions of Australia’s relationship with Africa.
Santilla Chingaipe is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker based in Melbourne, Australia.
She spent nearly a decade working for SBS World News which saw her report from across Africa and interview some of the continent’s most prominent leaders and she reported extensively on Australia’s diverse African communities.
Roger Phillips is the Vice President of the Australia Africa Business Council (VIC), an organisation that aims to assist and facilitate cross-cultural learning in the form of fair commerce and trade. He is the co-founder of two start-up businesses based out of Lagos, Nigeria.
Andrew Barnes is Director of the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Section in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). As well as managing Australia’s bilateral relationships with the countries of Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean, Andrew’s section has responsibility for the management of DFAT’s Extractives Program in Africa.
People from Africa arrived in Australia with the First Fleet, but large-scale African immigration to Australia is much more recent – and is hugely diverse. While South Africa and Egypt top the list of African migrants to Australia, Melbourne’s largest African communities are from Sudan and Mauritius – and we’re home to more than half the arrivals from Ethiopia and Somalia.
How do we engage with the African community – or rather, communities? What do we know about the more than 50 countries in this vast – and diverse – continent? And what do we think we know, but actually get wrong?
Zambian-born Santilla Chingaipe, an award-winning SBS journalist, will explore the issues and challenge our perceptions in a series of events that tease out the complexities of African-Australian identity, representation and politics.