. Stephen Smith speaking at the Botswana High Commission in Canberra Australia on Africa Day May 25,2010″]
The Australian Foreign Minister Hon. Stephen Smith has in his Africa Day speech at the Botswana High Commission in Canberra, Australia announced the opening of a High Commission in Addis Ababa accredited to the African Union.
This is in line with the growing moves by Australia to re-engage with the African continent and improve relations.
Speaking as he said “from the heart” the Foreign Minister pointed out that Australia is a nation of 23 million people and Africa a continent of over one billion people. Australia is prosperous he said and “if you are a trading nation of 23 million people you cannot ignore a trading continent of one billion people.”
He promised that “The Australian Government’s commitment to broaden and deepen Australia’s engagement with Africa has not and will not waver” adding that “It is Australia’s national economic, social and strategic interests to pursue such engagement.”
The Foreign Minister also announced the appointment of a Defence Attache explaining that “Australia’s new Defence Attache for Africa, who will be based at the new Addis Ababa Embassy, will build our security and defence cooperation with the African Union and African countries.”
Hon. Stephen Smith emphasized that “Australia is committed to helping Africa tackle its ongoing security and development challenges … working through the United Nations Peace Building Commission on its priority countries Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone.”
He also announced that “Australia is contributing $6million over the next two years to peace building efforts in the United Nations system, including $2million to support peace building initiatives focusing on Burundi and Sierra Leone.”
The Australian Foreign Minister noted that “To prosper into the future, Australia, as a great trading nation, cannot ignore Africa, a continent of more than 50 countries and nearly a billion people” pointing out that ”There are more than 150 Australian companies with projects spread across 40 African countries” and “an estimated US$20 billion in current and prospective Australian investment in the African resources sector.”
He also disclosed that “Africa has more overseas mining projects held by Australian companies than any other region in the world about 40 per cent.”
Hon. Stephen Smith maintained that “Australia wants to work with Africa to be a part of the brighter future it is forging ”adding “This is clearly in Australia’s long-term economic, social and strategic interests.”
Earlier in her speech on behalf of African ambassadors the Dean of the African Heads of Mission in Australia the Mauritanian High Commissioner reiterated that “Africa is rich in natural and human resources which if exploited collectively on the basis of effective policies to galvanise the economic development of Africa to radically reduce the high and unacceptable level of poverty, disease, malnutrition and infant mortality.” She maintained that “Australia is a nation with a land area of 7.6 million Square miles.
It has the technical know how and expertise that could be of great assistance to the development efforts of Africa through active participation and cooperation in diplomatic and economic spheres.”