The Francophone Africans: A Last Frontier for Australia
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While Africa in general, and the French-speaking part of it in particular, may seem of distant interest to Australian preoccupations, there is an increasing number of issues where Australia will find it needs constructive partners in this region. The 24 Francophones constitute about half of the African bloc, and thus are an essential group in any contested UN vote, where they can act quite efficiently as a bloc. Each country is quite different, and state governance issues are often complicated. Terrorist threats can dominate in several, particularly the Sahel countries, while much of central and equatorial Africa suffers from years of often violent political instability and poor development outcomes. The Indian Ocean states, while not immune from political troubles of their own in the past, are generally now doing rather well. Australia has no assets in the region, and no resident Embassies other than, from just this month, Morocco.
Mr William Fisher is the Special Envoy of the Australian Government for the Francophone States of Africa and La Francophonie and a Visiting Fellow at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University. He is a former senior diplomat, and was previously the Australian Ambassador to France, as well as Ambassador to Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania. He was awarded by the French Government the decoration of Grand Officier de l’Ordre National de Merite. He has also been Australian Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador to Thailand, Ambassador to Israel, and head of the Australian diplomatic missions to Iran, Hawaii, Vanuatu and New Caledonia.