Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett has signed an important agreement to build a closer relationship with 19 African nations as part of his official visit to Zambia and South Africa.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Government of Western Australia and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a regional economic organisation with member states including Zambia, Kenya and Uganda.
The objectives of the MoU include sharing knowledge and technology between Western Australia and the COMESA states across the fields of mining, petroleum and agriculture.
“Western Australia has a world-class system of legislation and regulation governing the mining and petroleum industries,” Mr Barnett said.
“We look forward to sharing the knowledge and expertise built up over more than 120 years of successful resource development in Western Australia.”
The agreement also aims to promote investment in vocational training and higher education across the resources and agriculture sectors, including through student and staff exchanges.
“Western Australia already attracts a significant proportion of African students studying and training in Australia, around 30 per cent, so is well placed to work with the COMESA states in the education sector,” the Premier said.
The COMESA states have a total population of 389 million and annual exports of $US82billion.
“Engaging with COMESA is an excellent way for the State to build relationships in the region and opens up an exciting new market for Western Australian goods and services,” Mr Barnett said.
“To this end, the Government also established a new trade and investment representative in East Africa last year.”
The agreement was signed on Friday in Lusaka, Zambia by Mr Barnett and the Secretary General of COMESA, His Excellency Sindiso Ngwenya.
The Premier is in Africa as part of a visit designed to encourage closer trade and investment relationships in this rapidly growing region. He will next head to South Africa for one of the world’s largest resources conference, Investing in African Mining Indaba, where he will deliver a keynote address.
Western Australia’s merchandise exports to Africa in 2012-13 totalled $1.4billion, accounting for 38 per cent of Australia’s total
More than 70 per cent of Australian companies investing in Africa’s mining industry are based in Western Australia
Current figures show that 168 Western Australian mining companies are operating 807 projects in Africa, in 33 of the 54 African countries
The 19 member nations of COMESA are Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe