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JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE - 27/04/2010 - Australia's relationship with the countries of Africa
Joint committee
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Australia's relationship with the countries of Africa

CHAIR (Senator Forshaw) —I declare open today’s public hearing of the inquiry by the committee into Australia’s relationship with the countries of Africa. This is our third day of public hearings and today, inter alia, the committee will be focusing on issues particularly to do with our aid program to African countries. That includes of course aid from non-government organisations.

Australia is increasing its official development assistance to Africa from $101 million in 2007-08 to $163.9 million in 2009-10. Further, this aid will be focused on assisting African countries to achieve their Millennium Development Goals. Evidence put before the committee so far indicates that most African countries are unlikely to meet their MDG targets by 2015. Our aid effort, according to the government, will be directed towards four of the seven MDG targets: agriculture and food security, maternal and child health, water and sanitation.

Today the committee will be receiving evidence from a range of organisations, including the Australian Council for International Development, Care Australia, Universities Australia and academics with research interests in African issues. I also note that several witnesses, both before the committee and in their written submissions, have called for the refocusing of Australia’s research on Africa through the establishment of a centre of excellence for African studies or an Australia-Africa research institute. The committee will be interested to hear details of these suggestions from witnesses.

Tomorrow the committee will meet in Sydney, taking further evidence on our aid program and from several companies that have interests in Africa. Our next set of hearings after Sydney tomorrow will be in Melbourne in the following week.

[10.16 am]