In the next few years, to 2015, African countries will be among the world’s fastest growing economies – based on International Monetary Fund data. Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria will be close behind with growth rates between 8.1 and 6.8 per cent respectively, for that period. Trade and investment is growing rapidly between Africa and Australia.
One in 20 Australian companies listed on our Stock Exchange has an investment in Africa. Australia has more than $20 billion in Foreign Direct Investment spread across more than 200 companies, in 600 projects in 37 countries.
Mining companies, explorers, miners, service providers, engineers, investors, are the driving force needed to unlock mineral wealth. The Australian Government, through our aid program, is helping develop Africa’s minerals sector in a way that is sustainable and transparent, in a way that yields benefits for the entire population. We have committed $200 million between 2011 and 2015 on mining for development.
Examples of Australian private sector operations in Africa include:
Cameroon : Rio Tinto and the Cameroon Government established the Alucam smelter in 1960. It directly employs 1,000 people and 1,300 indirectly. It represents $22 million of investment, $126 million of local procurement and $46 million in tax revenue to the Government of Cameroon. The local community has benefited from the provision of eight safe water wells, 50 scholarships and, medical assistance aimed at reducing the incidence of malaria and HIV/AIDS.
Malawi: Paladin operates the country’s biggest mine, the Kayelekera uranium mine, which contributes around 10 per cent of Malawi’s GDP. The community has benefitted from an upgrade of the water supply to the region’s largest town, and construction of school facilities and teacher housing near the mine.
Guinea : In Guinea, both Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have invested in the Simandou iron ore project and Mt Nimba bauxite and alumina smelter project. Bauxite and alumina are Guinea’s main exports.
Liberia : In Liberia, the resources sector will be a big factor in its recovery from civil war. Australia is providing a technical adviser to the Government of Liberia to help establish a Natural Resource Tax Unit within the Ministry of Finance.
Botswana: The mining industry contributes about 35 per cent of Botswana’s GDP. Currently, more than 30 Australian companies are operating there and Australian firms hold nearly 40 per cent of mining licences (the most of any country). One project, Aviva coal, will attract a further $2 billion of Australian investment in Botswana. Another, the Boseto copper mine, is owned by Discovery Metals and is one of the largest in Botswana.
Mozambique: Most of Australia’s exports to Mozambique are alumina which is processed in the BHP Billiton-owned Mozal aluminium smelter. The $1.3 billion smelter is the largest single infrastructure project in Mozambique, and its return to the government is expected to continue to grow 5.7 per cent a year.
South Africa : In South Africa, there are 134 Australian projects – the highest level of activity by Australian companies in any African country. An Austrade survey shows that 44 per cent of Australian mining equipment and technology services companies have operations in South Africa.
Namibia : 26 Australian companies operate in Namibia, mostly in base metals, diamonds and uranium. Rio Tinto’s Rössing uranium project produces and exports uranium oxide to nuclear power utilities around the world.