The Australian government has been called on to take more notice of the nation’s important economic footprint in mining in Africa as well as in oil and gas.
“Australia has a key role to play in helping Africa realise its mineral potential and contributing to the African Union’s Africa Mining Vision,” Australia Africa Mining Industry Group (AAMIG) Chairman, Bill Turner, said in Perth on Monday.
“Over the past two decades, investment by Australian mining and oil and gas companies has resulted in the creation of thousands of jobs on the continent and provided millions of dollars to governments by way of taxes and royalties,” Turner added.
“The appropriate development of natural resources remains the quickest and surest way of African countries meeting the newly launched Global Goals for Sustainable Development, but for real gains to be made, the Australian government must engage more actively with Australian resource-industry companies active on the African continent.”
To reflect the importance of Australian investment in both hard rock mining and oil and gas in Africa, AAMIG have voted for a name change, from AAMIG to the Australia-Africa Minerals and Energy Group (AAMEG).The change to the name of the Group is subject to ASIC approval.
As part of its broader focus, Turner said AAMIG is calling for Australian policy makers to increase:
- Their awareness of the economic role Australia is playing in the development of Africa;
- Australia’s diplomatic presence on the ground in Africa; and
- Australia’s technical and policy assistance to Africa, to assist host governments manage their resources industries more effectively and to the benefit of all citizens.
“AAMIG agrees with the comments made last week by departing Australian Ambassador to Washington, Kim Beazley, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, on the need for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to have greater resources at their disposal,” Turner said.
“In Africa, Australian private sector investment in natural resources now exceeds $50 billion. However, the Australian Government’s Economic Diplomacy programme is severely inadequate with only seven missions covering 54 countries and a population of more than 1 billion.
Australia’s resources sector has a substantial footprint across the continent of Africa and by working together with the Australian government, greater progress could be achieved in translating African mineral wealth into broader socio-economic development.”
AAMIG’s CEO, Trish O’Reilly, said that a strategic well-thought-out, economic diplomacy platform would make a substantial contribution to translating Africa’s potential mineral wealth into tangible development outcomes such as increasing the attendance of girls in education, improving infant mortality rates and decreasing chronic unemployment on the continent.
“These are the basic building blocks of life, and the jobs created by natural resources development offers Africans more opportunity for Africans to provide for their children,” O’Reilly continued.
AAMIG called on Bishop, as both Minister for Foreign Affairs and the local Federal member for Curtin in WA, to advocate for the development of Africa by designing an Africa strategy (with appropriate resourcing) “which Australia’s talented diplomatic corps can implement on the ground to the benefit of all parties, including companies, communities and host governments”.