The network will respond to emerging needs and will create opportunities to facilitate links between areas of expertise, promoting collaboration in research and education across the following prioritised themes:

  • Food Security
  • Mining and minerals
  • Public Health
  • Education

This encompasses a range of activities that the network will stimulate. While not all these activities are up and running in 2012, they will include:

1. International Forum and Update on Australia’s Re-Engagement with Africa
The network will organise a broad-based annual Africa Forum which will bring together Australian and African researchers, policy-makers, officials and interested parties to discuss issues of mutual interest. Alternating between continents, this will strengthen the discussion of African issues and highlight areas of mutual advantage and progress. An annual action plan will be agreed and implemented in partnership with government agencies such as the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), business and NGOs. Partnering with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is being considered for symposia in Australia and Africa in November 2013.

2. Targeted Workshops on Key Areas of Engagement
In addition to the Forum, the network will organise smaller more research focused sessions bringing together Australian and African researchers and academics to share innovations in specific sectoral areas. For example, a workshop might be focused on agriculture with specific sessions on improving crop resilience to drought or strengthening access to agricultural markets.

3. AusAID Development Research Awards (Africa)
The network enables participating members to apply for external funding for collaborative research projects between Australian and African institutions. This includes the Australian Development Research Awards (ADRA) through the Australian Agency for International Development, which is expected to open in June 2012.

4. Knowledge-Sharing Portal
Our website is http://aaun.edu.au. An electronic newsletter on Africa-Australia relations will be established to capture funding opportunities, and provide an interactive discussion forum to promote information dissemination throughout the network partners. This will be managed by the secretariat, which will also provide a single point of contact for GRM, AusAID’s contractor for AAA awards, and other agencies.

5. Mobility Fund
A small catalytic fund, once finances allow, will be established to enable exchange of academics between continents as a means of initiating new partnerships across the network from the bottom up.

6. Africa Advisory Hub
This includes preparation of position papers with key academics, NGOs, business and political representatives and provision of policy advice to AusAID, DFAT and industry.

7. Alumni Network
This will be established by linking with the alumni offices of the participating universities and with GRM in Pretoria for their AAA alumni network. It will consist of a newsletter and occasional events in Africa.