Senior Business Development Manager Update: Elizabeth Dietrichsen - Austrade Johannesburg

01 Mar 2022

Elizabeth Dietrichsen, Senior Business Development Manager in South Africa, shares a regional update on opportunities across South Africa and the rest of the continent. Specific opportunities for student recruitment through partnerships, teacher training and online delivery is discussed.

Welcome to this Austrade market insight on Africa. My name’s Elizabeth Dietrichsen, I’m speaking to you from Johannesburg in South Africa.

Market Update

Africa has 54 countries, it’s a very big continent, it’s diverse, it’s dynamic, and it has a population dividend that is expected to be 2.5 billion people by 2050. Of that amount, half would be under the age of 25, so this is the global workforce of the future. This will create opportunities for governments to train their citizens to meet the needs of the whole world, given that population growth meanwhile is declining everywhere else in the world.

In Africa, we have many diverse countries, although there are similar challenges in education. Most African governments are not able to meet their needs in training and educating their current populations, which means this is going to become a bigger problem down the track. African countries also realise [that] for their economies to grow they need trained and educated citizens, and the citizens themselves know that education is a way out of poverty, as education leads to jobs.

Some technological advances in Africa can be used to bring education to people, as we look at the example of mobile money, why not mobile education, and mobile learning? Using technology that can leapfrog from classrooms to smart phones and virtual learning.

Competitive Analysis

There are several countries looking at Africa, not only for extractives and agriculture, but also to build their own capacity and lengthen and strengthen ties, an example being China’s Belt and Road initiative, and Turkey is building factories in Ethiopia, giving them a strategic advantage. Australia is somehow not that visible and it’s something that we can change in this next decade.

There are success stories as far as Australian education is concerned in the continent. One of our flagship examples is Curtin Mauritius, aiming to establish themselves as a hub to bring education to African students and build a pipeline to Australia.

Other success stories would be the Engineering Institute of Technology, which is an online training school that brings VET skills to students across Africa. Idea Online’s offering of digital training to school kids, reaching into Africa through their base in South Africa. Many partnerships and collaboration agreements have been be signed in Mauritius, with the University of Mauritius and other partners, extending the reach of Australian education, but more is possible.


Opportunities exist across the continent to support teacher training, professional development and VET skills training. The world of work has undergone changes since COVID-19 and Australia definitely has all the expertise to enhance professional development for those in their careers already, not only looking at student recruitment.

Speaking about student recruitment, it should be noted that many African students would go abroad to study, even pre-pandemic. Popular competing study destinations include the US, UK, Malaysia and Canada, and more students now also looking towards China. China is recruiting many African students, teaching them Mandarin, and then sending them back to their countries with the necessary skills.

So, partnerships in Africa is definitely a way to reach into the governments. Starting to bring Australian education to market, but it should be with care and much precaution. For Africa, definitely there are many things that are dangerous, not only the animals, so please choose your partnerships with care.

Ask Austrade, even though we may not be present in all African countries, we have networks, let us reach out and check and double check to make sure these partnerships are beneficial on both sides. There are plenty of opportunities in Africa, let’s not delay any longer.

Elizabeth Dietrichsen — Senior Business Development Manager, Austrade South Africa.

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