THE CONFERENCE CALLER: Western Australia is probably the most difficult state to enter at present, especially so for international travellers.
This meant this year’s Africa Downunder Conference in Perth became a televisual feast as government officials from around the resource-rich continent were required to send pre-recorded video presentations.
The hard state border meant the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs; Minister for Women, Senator the Hon. Marise Payne joined the conference in the same way.
The Minister opened her address by noting Australia and Africa share strong economic and people to people links with, “vibrant diaspora communities and robust trade and investment”.
“In 2019, two-way trade was valued at almost $11 billion,” Payne told her viewing audience.
“Our engagement in agriculture, energy and professional services is growing, and our mining sector remains a key contributor to economic jobs growth and prosperity.”
Payne paid tribute to the role that Australian companies play in Africa.
“I know many of the people who make those companies successful are participating today in Africa Down Under,” she said.
“You represent large and small companies: those that explore and extract gold and other traditional minerals, as well as those who find and supply the critical minerals that are essential to new technologies and to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
“Across the African continent, you’re working to identify and develop resources essential to Australia’s, and Africa’s, prosperity.
“I want to say thankyou for working to open new markets and to grow our global supply chains.
“Companies are providing training and employment opportunities for young people and I pay particular acknowledgement to those companies that are encouraging more women into the industry and empowering them to be leaders in the mining sector.”
The Minister also paid homage to the work that African governments are doing to enhance trade.
“The African Continental Free Trade area is the largest in the world, in terms of the number of countries participating,” Payne continued.
“Many of you contribute to unlocking opportunities to improve the livelihood of Africans and to create a more prosperous market.”
Payne declared Australia’s desire to work with African nations saying Australia’s nine High Commissioners and Ambassadors across Africa are more than happy to work with the Continent’s Nations to help reduce barriers to investment and operations.