The Australian Government has appointed Australia Awards Alumni ambassadors to raise the visibility of Australia Awards in Africa.
Alumni ambassadors will actively network with other Alumni and stakeholders in Africa to promote Australia Awards, offer peer support to new recipients, share tips on studying in Australia and connect new Awardees with those still in Australia.
To launch the initiative, 10 Alumni nominated from 10 different African countries attended a three-day capacity-building workshop in Pretoria, South Africa, from 15 to 17 April. The workshop aimed to equip them with skills to perform their new role, which includes promoting Australia Awards in their home countries and across the African continent.
Visiting Australian parliamentarians, ambassadors and high commissioners to South Africa from several African countries had the opportunity to meet the Alumni ambassadors at a breakfast meeting held during the workshop.
Addressing the ambassadors at the breakfast, Australian High Commissioner to South Africa, HE Mr Graeme Wilson, underscored the important role played by the Alumni in development. “Our Alumni are the essence of what we are trying to achieve because they represent an investment in the future of the African continent. Through specialised knowledge, skills, leadership and enthusiasm, our Alumni are able to bring about positive change and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in their home countries,” High Commissioner Wilson said.
“They are also key builders of increased cooperation and partnership between Africa and Australia by promoting Australia as an active partner in African development.”
High Commissioner Wilson encouraged the Alumni to stay connected and to keep Australia Awards informed of changes and development contributions they are making in their home countries.
Officially opening the workshop, Jamie Isbister, Minister-Counsellor (Africa), said the workshop provided an opportunity for the Alumni ambassadors to engage with the Australian Government to make the Scholarships more effective and targeted.
“As Alumni, you are the jewel of our Scholarships, as you are the people who broadly contribute to the development of your respective countries on return home from Australia. You also represent an important link in Australia-Africa relations,” said Mr Isbister.
Liberian Ambassador to South Africa, HE Mrs Lois Lewis Brutus, acknowledged the importance of Australian Government scholarships to her country.
“The education that Australia is giving to my country, more than just imparting knowledge, has the capacity to impact all spheres of our livelihood, our wellbeing, our output and how we engage with other people. In my country of Liberia, the beneficiaries who have previously received the scholarship are doing tremendous work,” she said.
One of the Alumni ambassadors, a senior scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute in Ethiopia, Dr Azage Tegegne Wolde, welcomed the appointment of the ambassadors.
“I am very happy that this day has come. I have waited 24 years for it. Having studied Livestock Sciences and Rural Development at the University of Queensland in the late 1980s, I am really looking forward to promoting the wonderful work that the Australian Government Scholarships are doing, not only in my country, but on the rest of the continent.”