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Sub-Saharan Africa


heading foldHow we are helping

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. Poverty in the region has declined steadily over the last two decades, and natural resource rents provide opportunities to finance further development gains. However, the benefits of economic growth are not widely shared contributing to the high levels poverty in the region. 

Our aid is investing in sectors that drive economic growth, trade and job creation. 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. Our development assistance predominantly focuses on the Indian Ocean region (East and Southern Africa).

Two women talking Beth Wanjero talks to an adviser from the sustainable development initiative about points raised in the training manual relating to her farm near Gilgil, Kenya (credit: DFAT).

Mining offers African countries an unparalleled opportunity to stimulate growth and reduce poverty. If well managed, the extractives sector can drive innovation; generate revenue to fund critical social services and upgrade productive physical infrastructure; and directly and indirectly create jobs. Our investment in effective governance of the extractives sector is leveraging off Australia’s highly relevant expertise to share with African partners. Our aid is:

  • supporting enabling environments to attract and retain investment
  • building skills to regulate and manage the extractives sector to give business increased certainty, while improving mining revenue management and overall governance.

Our aid is investing in improving education through:

  • providing Australia Awards to African men and women for post-graduate training and education, including scholarships to study at Australian universities
  • Australian volunteer placements in select countries in sub-Saharan Africa to develop local capacity, share skills and build relationships in sectors key to economic growth and job creation.

Australia is investing in the agriculture sector, which plays a key role in Africa’s development in terms of broad-based economic growth, jobs and reducing poverty. Agriculture supports the livelihoods of 80 per cent of Africans, and provides employment for about 60 per cent of the economically active population1. 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). We are supporting market development to promote growth and improve livelihoods. Our programme focuses on better research and innovative technology adoption, and on boosting private sector activity.

Nejjemba Teopista, farmer of Kayunga and farmer's group animator, holding her hoe after working in a communal garden at Kangulumira where food is grown to feed the poor and sick (credit: Sean Sprague, CARITAS).

In health, we are also working with non-government, public and private sector partners to deliver the services needed for healthy and productive communities, including maternal and child health programmes in East Africa and water and sanitation programmes in Southern Africa. The Africa-Australia Community Engagement Scheme (AACES) is helping people in need to improve agricultural productivity and increase access to maternal and child health and water and sanitation services. The programme supports innovative private sector partnerships that extend the reach and quality of services to communities. It also supports women’s economic participation and empowerment as well as lifting the living standards and status of people with disability. We are providing:

  • access to maternal and child health programmes for more than 50,000 people, including through life-saving vaccines and supervised births by a skilled birth attendant
  • access to safe and sustainable water and appropriate sanitation for more than 2 million people, and lessons on good hygiene for over 42,000 people.

Australia is also helping sub-Saharan communities build resilience to respond to current and emerging humanitarian crises, in partnership with UN agencies, and international and Australian non-government organisations.

Archived details of expenditure for this program for 2013–14 can be found here.

Archived details of expenditure for DFAT’s aid program, following the Government’s announcement on 18 January 2014 to revise the aid budget, can be found here.


1 African Development Bank Group, Agriculture Sector Strategy 2010-14, January 2010, p. iv


Results 2012–13

  • Provided 410,678 people (including 132,126 women) with increased access to safe water.
  • Over 220,000 people now have increased knowledge of hygiene practices.
  • Treated nearly 45,000 people (including 20,275 women) for measles, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and severe malnutrition, and providing over 105,000 with information on prevention.
  • Provided over 37,000 families with family planning services in Kenya and Tanzania, and over 133,000 people (including 4,586 people with disability), with sexual reproductive health information.
  • Increased the provision of basic sanitation for 11,798 school children in the Nampala province, Mozambique.


Results 2012–13

  • More than 5,000 Australia Awards granted to African candidates since 1960.
  • In 2012, 1,026 Awards were granted to African nationals, including 336 long-term PhD or Masters Awards.
  • In 2013, more than 1,000 Awards to Africa in the areas of governance, health, education, mining, water and sanitation and agriculture.

Economic development

Results 2012–13

  • More than 164,000 men and women gained access to and are using agricultural technologies to improve their livelihoods.
  • An additional 160,998 people were able to access social transfers (such as cash or in kind transfers including food).
  • Over 93,500, including 31,000 women have increased incomes.
  • Worked with DFID to provide affordable livestock insurance to vulnerable pastoralists and agro-pastoralists households in the arid and semi-arid lands in Kenya.
  • 36,207 people increased their access to financial services.
  • Six volunteers were placed in agriculture-related organisations across West Africa.


Results 2012–13

  • Australia trained over 2,000 officials in electoral management, regional diplomacy, international trade and law, counter piracy and legislative leadership; and one individual from Tanzania was sponsored to undertake an International Trade and Investment Law Masters in South AfricaAustralia assisted the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) to improve tax administration and through this support enabled 576 staff to be trained in key areas identified by ZIMRA.
  • A total of 92 civil society organisations were supported to track service provisions.


Results 2012–13

  • The Australian Government continued to be responsive to new and existing humanitarian crises.
  • Over 5.6 million vulnerable women, men, girls and boys provided with life-saving assistance in conflict and crisis situations in the region.
  • Contributed to WFP providing lifesaving assistance to 1.2 million Somali, Eritrean and Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Research overview

Australia’s Development Research Awards Scheme (ADRAS) are a competitive grants program designed to attract high quality, innovative research that informs policy development. Researchers have now begun work on a range of development research projects funded through the 2012 round of the ADRAS. Fourteen grants totaling almost $7.5 million over two years were awarded under the Africa theme.

The principal objectives of the Africa theme are to:

  1. Promote research which addresses critical development issues, as articulated through Australia’s existing aid program in key sectors
  2. Support research activities which have strong policy and user relevance, and are likely to result in demonstrable development impact.
  3. Extend knowledge in areas relevant to the effectiveness of our existing work in Africa.
  4. Contribute to capacity building in the African research sector, and facilitate Australian and international researchers to work in and with Africa.

Consistent with Australia's development activities in Africa, the research proposals focused on five thematic areas including agriculture and food security; mining for development; peace, conflict and security; maternal and child health; and water and sanitation.

More information on ADRAS and Africa-themed research

Where is Sub-Saharan Africa?

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Development statistics Source Value
Population (UN Human Development Indicators), 2011 World Bank 874,841,049
GDP growth (annual per cent, 2011) World Bank 4.1%
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$, 2011) World Bank US$1254
Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP) (percentage of population), 2008 World Bank 47.5 per cent
School enrolment, primary (percentage net), 2010 World Bank 75 per cent
Adult literacy rate (both sexes, percentage aged 15 and above), 2007 UNDP 75.7 per cent
Under-5 mortality (per 1,000 live births), 2009 UNDP 113.5
Maternal mortality per 100,000, 2008 UNDP 450
Carbon dioxide emissions per capita, 2008 UNDP 1.011 tonnes



heading foldWhy we give aid


Africa has the highest proportion of people living in extreme poverty and is expected to make up to 60 per cent of the world’s extreme poor by 2015. Africa lags behind other regions in MDG progress, with sub-Saharan Africa most off track against all the MDGs.

Find out more about why we give aid to Sub-Saharan Africa


heading fold How we give aid

Australia delivers the aid program to Africa largely by working in partnership with multilateral and regional organisations, bilateral donors, as well as non-government and community-based organisations.

Find out more about how we give aid to Sub-Saharan Africa

Read the Sub-Saharan Africa Aid Program Performance Report 2013-14



heading foldProgress Against MDGs

  • Eradicate extreme hunger & poverty
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability

Last reviewed: 28 October, 2014