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Sub-Saharan Africa

Overview of Australia’s aid program to Sub-Saharan Africa

2013/14 Estimated Outcome: $226.4 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate: $186.9 million

Australia has a clear national interest in the security, stability and prosperity of sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the world's most rapidly growing regions, its development and economic prospects remain positive. The high rates of growth and increased political stability are creating opportunities for Australian trade and investment, particularly in the mining sector. Australia’s development assistance program to Sub-Saharan Africa aims to reduce poverty, promote inclusive growth and create jobs through supporting productive sectors of the economy. The aid program is focused on areas in which Australia possesses expertise and a comparative advantage to deliver investments where they are most needed; where they can drive productive growth; and where they best align with Australia’s trade and foreign policy objectives.

Sub Saharan Africa is a diverse region, and the development context and challenges differ dramatically between countries. As a whole Africa is the poorest continent in the world: it has 33 of the world's 48 least developed countries and almost half the continent (more than half a billion people) lives in extreme poverty. Sub-Saharan Africa lags behind other regions in Millennium Development Goal progress, and is unlikely to meet any of its goals. Despite impressive rates of economic growth in many African countries, poverty levels remain high and the benefits of this growth are not shared equitably.

The goal of the Australian aid program in Sub-Saharan Africa is to assist African people to achieve more equitable access to the benefits of economic growth. Our aid is investing in sectors that drive economic growth, trade and job creation primarily in eastern and southern Africa. We will deliver activities that boost agricultural productivity and markets, improve the management of the extractives sector and its revenues, and build the skills and knowledge of individuals to contribute to Africa’s development.

Extractives for growth

Australian aid is supporting enabling environments to attract and retain investment. We are building skills to regulate and manage the extractives sector to give business increased certainty, while improving mining revenue management and overall governance. Our assistance draws on Australia’s highly relevant expertise, which we then share with our African partners. We are also partnering with governments, industry and communities to ensure the benefits of mining are shared equitably.

Extractives for growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

Agricultural productivity

Australia is supporting market development to promote growth and improve livelihoods. Our program focuses on better research and innovative technology adoption, and on boosting private sector activity. Australia is sharing highly relevant technical, research and agri-business expertise, including through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Agricultural productivity assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa

Australia Awards

Australia is investing in human capacity and African leadership through a substantial but targeted Australia Awards program. Australia Awards will complement our other initiatives and will focus on extractives, agricultural productivity and public policy. The Australia Awards program in Africa has a strong focus on gender equality, women’s leadership and participation and disability inclusiveness.

Australia Awards in Sub-Saharan Africa

Civil society engagement

Australia is engaging with non-government organisations (NGOs) to provide community based interventions to poor and marginalized people in Africa. Support to NGOs in Africa is primarily through the Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme, the Australia NGO Cooperation Program and the Direct Aid Program.

Engaging with civil society in Sub-Saharan Africa

Humanitarian assistance

Australia is a responsive and responsible provider of humanitarian assistance to communities in Africa affected by crises. Most crises in Africa are multi-faceted, often involving food insecurity, political instability, armed conflict and displacement. Where possible, DFAT links our life-saving assistance to longer-term efforts to build resilience in communities exposed to protracted crises.

Our results

  • Australia is helping to improve the capacity of Africans, particularly in the extractives and agricultural sectors. In 2013-14, the Sub-Saharan Africa aid program provided training, technical assistance and study tours to African government officials. In addition, the program provided 974 Australia Award long and short course scholarships across 51 countries, predominantly in extractives and agricultural productivity.
  • 43,939 poor men and women gained access to and were using agricultural technologies and Australia assisted 210,836 poor women and men to increase their access to financial services.
  • Australia worked to improve the lives of Africans living in poverty by increasing access to safe water for 375,577 women and men, and basic sanitation to 158,850 women and men. Australia aid also assisted 71,972 women to give birth with a skilled birth attendant present.
  • Australia is a responsive provider of humanitarian assistance and in 2013-14 provided through our trusted partners over 3.5 million instances of life saving assistance.

Related documents

Agricultural productivity assistance in Sub-Saharan Africa


Australia’s support to the agricultural sector in Sub Saharan Africa aims to lift food security by increasing agricultural productivity. Australia invests in the research and adoption of new technologies that address food availability, access and nutrition-related challenges for poor rural farmers. Australia also supports investments that boost private sector activity in agriculture, and improve the functioning of markets and agricultural value chains.

Australia works with both public and private sector organisations from across Africa and Australia, including research bodies, agri-business, financial service providers and non-government organisations. Our investment focuses on areas where Australia has comparative technical, research and agri-business expertise such as in dry land farming and biosecurity.

Our assistance in the agricultural sector aligns with the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program, which is an African owned and led initiative to boost agricultural productivity.

Australia supports a number of other programs that contribute to progress in the agriculture sector including the Australia Awards program, the Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme, agricultural research projects under the Australian Development Research Award Scheme and the work of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

ACIAR supports agricultural productivity projects focusing on increasing agricultural productivity through farming systems intensification, diversification and improved market access. ACIAR also manages the Australian International Food Security Research Centre in Nairobi, Kenya.

Related initiatives

DFAT-CSIRO Africa Agricultural Productivity Partnership

$31 million, 2010-2015

Australia has been supporting enhanced agricultural productivity in Africa since 2010 through the national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

In East Africa, CSIRO partners with the Biosciences eastern and central Africa (BecA) research hub in Nairobi. The partnership strengthens the capacity of the hub and of African scientists in using modern biosciences for food and nutritional security. Some of the projects undertaken by this partnership include promoting adoption and commercialisation of the highly nutritious crops such as vegetable and grain amaranth, addressing aflatoxin contamination in maize, developing vaccines and sustainable control strategies for livestock diseases.

Australia also invests in the Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund managed under the CSIRO-BecA partnership. This fund enables African researchers to visit and undertake cutting edge research for periods of three to twelve months at the BecA hub.

In West-Africa, CSIRO partners with the West and Central Africa Council for Agriculture Research in Dakar, Senegal to create enabling environments for agricultural innovation. This partnership works with private and public organisations to host innovation platforms to inform and test interventions aligned with the needs of local communities in various countries.

Related documents*
Name of document Year published Type
Mid-term review of the CSIRO Africa Food Security partnerships (2011-2013) 2013 Performance report

African Enterprise Challenge Fund: Research into Business Window

$9 million, 2012-2015

Australia is supporting the multi-donor Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) which is focused on making markets work for the poor. The Fund is working to spur entrepreneurs and companies in Africa to develop innovative, commercially viable and practical business ideas that could have a positive impact on rural livelihoods and incomes.

Australia funded the second round of a ‘Research into Business’ window, which aims to support business ideas that can take research discoveries and make them commercially viable. The Research into Business window aims to benefit 750,000 households by strengthening agribusiness market systems in order to benefit the poor, 60 per cent of whom are living on less than US$2 per day.

Australia’s aid program has also supported a funding window for Zimbabwe, which has to date benefited about 160,000 households directly through the creation of 520 new jobs and indirectly through increased farm productivity and incomes.

Related links

Engaging with civil society in Sub-Saharan Africa


The Australian aid program values partnerships with civil society organisations including non-government organisations (NGOs). Civil society organisations can be powerful agents for change—as partners in delivering better services for the poorest members of society, and as enablers of social inclusion. They can also advocate for more effective, accountable and transparent governments. Civil society organisations promote community level engagement, build the capacity of civil society more broadly and strengthen people to people links. Australian NGOs have longstanding connections, expertise and experience in Africa. They are working with communities across the African continent. Around a third of all donations made by Australians go to projects in Africa.

Australia’s development assistance delivers the following programs through civil society partners:

  • Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme
  • Australian NGO Cooperation Program
  • Civil Society WASH Fund
  • Direct Aid Program.

Related initiatives

Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme

$83,219,763, 2011-2016

The Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES) is a partnership program with ten Australian NGOs and their Africa-based partners. It contributes to poverty reduction in Africa through community-based programs in food security, maternal and child health, water supply and hygiene and sanitation.

AACES targets marginalised communities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with particular attention to women, children, people with disability and people vulnerable to disaster.

Related documents*
Name of document Year published Type
Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme Program Design Document 2011 Design
Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme Partnership Agreement 2011 Agreement
AACES—ActionAid Australia project design 2011 Design
AACES—Australian Foundation for the Peoples of Asia and the Pacific project design 2011 Design
AACES—Anglican Overseas Aid project design 2011 Design
AACES—CARE Australia project design 2011 Design
AACES—Marie Stopes International Australia project design 2011 Design
AACES—Oxfam Australia project design 2011 Design
AACES—Plan International Australia project design 2011 Design
AACES—WaterAid Australia project design 2011 Design
AACES—World Vision Australia project design 2011 Design
AACES—Innovations Fund Guidelines 2012 Guidelines
Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme Annual Report 2011-12 2013 Annual report
Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme Annual Report 2012-13 2014 Annual report

Australian NGO Cooperation Program in Africa

$27.3 million, 2013-2014

The goal of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) is to support Australian NGO community development projects that directly and tangibly alleviate poverty in developing countries. ANCP has been operating for almost 40 years. It delivers projects across a range of sectors including education, health, water supply and sanitation, civil society and food security.

In 2013-14, approximately $27.3 million was provided to 26 Australian NGOs for projects in 22 African countries. Global funding to ANCP in 2014-15 will be $134 million—an increase of $3.3 million.

Related links

Civil Society Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Fund in Africa

$26.95 million, 2011-2017

The Civil Society WASH Fund is a $97 million competitive grants program that supports civil society organisations to deliver WASH programs in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The core objective of the WASH Fund is to enhance the health and quality of life of the poor and vulnerable by improving sustainable access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Funding provides grants to civil society organisations in order to support their delivery of services towards the Fund’s objectives. Funding can include research grants, innovation and impact grants, fund management and knowledge and learning events.

Civil society organisations had to successfully complete a pilot phase in 2013 prior to receiving implementation support from the Fund. In Africa, six civil society organisations completed the pilot phase and have received implementation support. The Fund’s total investment in Africa is $26.95 million, with activities in Lesotho ($2.8 million), Malawi ($7.2 million), Mozambique ($4.5 million) and Zimbabwe ($12.4 million).

Related links

Direct Aid Program in Africa

$2.55 million, 2013-2014

The Direct Aid Program is a flexible small grants program managed by diplomatic missions across Africa (and other regions). The aim is to advance developmental objectives and address humanitarian hardship in developing countries, while at the same time supporting Australia's international relations and public diplomacy objectives. Direct Aid Program funding is available on a not-for-profit basis to individuals, community groups, NGOs and other entities engaged in development activities.

In 2013-14, approximately $2.55 million was provided to local organisations in 53 African countries. This represents about 23 per cent of total Direct Aid program funds globally. In 2014-15, the Direct Aid Program allocation to African diplomatic missions will increase to $4.865 million.

Related links

Extractives for growth in Sub-Saharan Africa


Australia’s Extractives for Growth development assistance in Africa is delivered through the Australia-Africa Partnerships Facility (AAPF). The AAPF is a regional program delivering a range of regional, multi-country and country level activities. These activities primarily focus on agricultural productivity, extractive sector governance and public policy. Australia’s assistance through the AAPF has included:

  • study tours for African government officials
  • technical assistance to African governments
  • other activities to increase the capacity of African countries to manage their natural resource endowment.

Australia also supports regional initiatives that aim to improve the governance of the extractives sector across Africa, including the Africa Mining Vision and the African Minerals Development Centre.

Related initiatives

Australia-Africa Partnerships Facility

$120 million, 2009-2015

Australia’s development assistance in the extractives sector is focused in three areas:

  • skills development
  • mining and communities
  • the enabling environment.

Australian support is:

  • improving collaborative skills in forecasting, analysis and planning to build extractives capacity in education and technical institutions
  • supporting collaborative local development to help local suppliers access the extractives supply chain
  • improving extractives governance through improved regulations and increased capacity to negotiate contracts and monitor the industry.

Some of the capacity development results from the AAPF include:

  • more than 900 officials have participated in capacity building and training activities since 2010
  • almost 650 officials from close to 40 African countries and regional organisations have participated in 22 study tours since 2011
  • our 2013 Vocational Training Program leveraged the private sector and Australian expertise to run a pilot vocational action-learning program for financial and technical professionals in local service agencies. This pilot improved the quality of project preparation for mining-related infrastructure projects. For example, in Zambia this training resulted in two local councils revising their planning processes to better incorporate key stakeholders.

For more details, see the Australia Africa Partnership Facility website

African Minerals Development Centre

$5 million, 2012-2014

Australia was the first donor to commit financial and technical support to the African Minerals Development Centre. This Centre is a joint initiative of the African Union, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program. The Centre will provide a central strategic hub for implementing the Africa Mining Vision and will coordinate technical support to African Union member states who wish to better manage their extractive industries. The Centre focuses on the seven priority areas outlined in the Africa Mining Vision, which are:

  • policy and licensing
  • geology and mining information systems
  • governance and participation
  • artisanal and small scale mining
  • linkages, investment and diversification
  • building human and institutional capacities
  • communication and advocacy.

Global support for extractives governance

Australia supports a number of global initiatives that assist developing countries in Africa (and other regions) to improve governance of their natural resources. These include the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative, the International Monetary Fund’s technical assistance fund and the International Mining for Development Centre. As a major diamond producer, Australia is also active in the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, a joint government, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds.

For further information on global initiatives please refer to our extractives sector development assistance information.

Related links

Last reviewed: 28 October, 2014