Australia courts African countries

AUSTRALIA is holding its first Australia-Africa Week conference aimed at building on a $30 billion investment in extractive projects in the continent, particularly in gold.

BY BUSINESS REPORTER

Zimbabwe is being represented at the inaugural event by Mines and Mining Development deputy minister Fred Moyo, who is among 12 ministers from the continent.

In a statement, the Australian embassy in Zimbabwe said the Australia-Africa Week was in recognition of substantive engagement between Australia and many African nations.

“The level of participation at the Australia-Africa Week is recognition of the substantive economic engagement between Australia and many African countries. For instance, in 2015, two-way trade in goods and services between Australia and Africa totalled AUD$7,6 billion, AUD$2,1 billion of that was in services,” the Australian embassy said. “Australian investment in the African extractive industry is even more substantial. Australian companies have an estimated $30 billion and rising invested in extractive projects in Africa. There are more than 200 Australian companies with about 700 projects in 35 countries.”

The embassy said much of this was in exploration activity, particularly in gold.

“As such, the future is promising, especially as we come out of a period of particularly low commodity prices,” it said.
Moyo together with other ministers, is attending the conference to seek investment from Australian companies to boost mineral exploration and capacity.

Currently, Africa accounts for 8% of world mineral production.

The ministers will be joined by a substantial group of representatives of Australia’s mining and extractive industry together with company executives, investors, financiers, suppliers, and mining service providers.

The event is expected to be a yearly function to boost ties between Australia and Africa. The conference is underway in Perth and ends at the end of this week.

“Africa is the largest investment market for Australian extractive companies outside that country. And while it has not reached the level of investment from some other countries, there are many reasons why Australian companies have an edge over their competitors — and why they should be taken seriously in Africa,” the Australian embassy said.

“The continent of Africa currently produces more than 60 metal and mineral products. And it’s a leader in the export of crude oil and natural gas. Africa has about 30% of the world’s mineral resources. And its share of the world’s diamonds, bauxite, vanadium, manganese, platinum, cobalt, gold and zirconium is even higher.”

The embassy said the past five years had seen more than 450 African students studying extractives-related Masters’ and post-graduate short courses in Australia.

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