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An Aussie ‘Africa Down Under’ Conference Only Has White Speakers For Some Reason

Zero out of 23 guest presenters were African.

Africa Mining White

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A Perth conference titled ‘Africa Down Under’ has been criticised online for only having white speakers in their line-up.

Africa Down Under is self-described as the leading forum for Australian-African business and government relations centred around mining and energy.

The 19th iteration of the event is slated to start in September, and will feature live presentations, face-to-face meetings, and networking with virtual access for overseas viewers.

Of the announced presenters, 20 are white men, two are white women, with an additional unannounced guest from First Quantum Minerals Ltd. If you take a squiz at the latter company’s Board of Directors though, it’s safe to assume Africa Down Under’s current presenter list will be 100% white.

In a Twitter statement, organiser Paydirt Media said they acknowledged the “interpretations which may be drawn by the advertised preliminary line-up for the in-person element” of the event.

“ADU has always strived to ensure its programme is truly reflective of the diversity of African mining,” they said. “In 2019, the last event before the pandemic, the programme featured 24 African and 15 female presenters.”

“Ongoing travel restrictions mean we will be unable to welcome our African-based colleagues in person this year but once the full programme — including virtual participants — is released we are confident balance will return.”

Even with the promise of more POC guests dialling in, members of the diaspora are still scratching their heads over why no onshore African industry representatives made the cut.

Beyond the lack of Black voices, and the living demonstration of which demographic over-represents corporate positions of power, the third consideration is that the event is designed to expand the gouging of African natural resources by foreign countries. In this way, sadly the speaker list makes a lot of sense.

Nearly 200 Australian stock exchange-listed resource companies operate in Africa, according to a Parliament report. A 2015 investigation into our explorative position in the continent showed the number of Australian mining companies outweighed international competitors, and played a role in civilian disruption and environmental destruction over there.

Junkee reached out to the organisers for comment.