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The Australia Africa Conference 2014 was launched at South Africa House with High Commissioner Koleka Mqulana welcoming participants for the conference to be held at the Crawford School of the Australian National University on 15th and 16th July.
And other than the participants and me, the media stayed away. Why I wondered. It was an opportunity to mix it with the High Commissioners and Ambassadors of Africa, to chat with the Ambassador of Egypt for obvious reasons, and get to know these men and women who are building on previous initiatives focusing on growing ties between Africa and Australia and especially that between the five Australian Africa Universities Network Forums held since 2011 and the promotion of trade and investment links with the Australia Africa Business Council with President Charles Millward a participant in the conference.
The Africa Group has 14 member diplomatic missions in Canberra and the AAUN is a consortium of 11 Australian Universities which work with nine African partner universities with a focus on not just education and research collaborations but also food security, public health, mining and minerals and public sector reform. Among the speakers is a wide range of expertise in these areas and hopefully will result in significant recommendations for the conference.
But all who do attend will get a warm welcome especially from the energetic and effusive High Commissioner of South Africa Koleka Mqulana who will be leaving soon for her next posting in Nairobi, Kenya because as she says Australia doesn’t need her but Africa does, the personable and charming Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, High Commissioner of Botswana Molosiwa Selepeng and the former journalist and all round colourful character from Nigeria, High Commissioer Ayoola Olukanni will be among the participants.