African nations are attracting a surge in interest with many countries — including China —pursuing greater engagement with a continent that is experiencing a natural resources boom, impressive levels of economic growth, demographic and democratic transitions, and growing influence in global politics.
Assistant Professor David Mickler, from UWA’s Political Science and International Relations program, has been examining Australia’s own ‘new engagement’ with Africa, a continent historically marginal to our foreign policy agenda.
His research, with colleagues from around the country, has identified a range of factors which can guide the way the Australian government engages and positions itself in this emerging market to help develop and sustain close and mutually beneficial relationships.
These factors include substantial resources sector investment from Australia and a range of ongoing humanitarian, security and governance challenges with transnational implications.
Conversely, David’s research has also identified key challenges, which need to be addressed in order to enable ongoing beneficial engagement with this diverse continent.
Among these are Australia’s relative lack of ‘visibility’ and existing networks in Africa; weak investment in our diplomatic footprint on the continent, and low levels of knowledge about Africa at home..
David has introduced two new Africa-focused units at UWA: 'The International Politics of Africa' (POLS3334) and be 'Peace and Security in Africa' (POLS5671), to help build the knowledge base required for successful engagement with the African continent.
He has also been a driving force in establishing a 'UWA Africa Researchy Cluster' which was formally launched on 25 May 2015.