20 October 2020

Key insights

Egypt – The Egyptian Government is seeking international collaboration on a number of upcoming mining projects. The Government is interested in advisory services that will aid reform in the mining industry and in establishing a specialist mining college. This move creates opportunities for Australian mining, METS and education service providers.

Saudi Arabia – The economy is continuing to slow, owing to lower revenues from oil and increases in sales taxes. The Industrial Production Index (IPI) declined 22.4% year-on-year to 98.2 points in June 2020. This is partly owing to mining and quarrying activity, which fell 23% to the end of June, year-on-year. Retail is beginning to recover, as citizens who would normally have travelled elsewhere during the summer spend their money domestically.

Sub-Saharan Africa – Governments have started opening airspace for international flights. Kenya opened its borders to international flights on August 1, Ghana on September 1, Nigeria on September 5, and Mauritius on September 21. South Africa will open on October 1.

Sub-Saharan Africa – There will likely be a decline in freight costs as the frequency of passenger flights increases. For example, in Kenya air freight costs have declined from a high of $4 to $2.8 per kilogram since the resumption of international flights.

UAE – October/November usually marks the start of the high season for cargo from the southern hemisphere to Europe. Currently it’s not clear how Emirates – the market leader – will set rates. One difficulty for exporters and the airline is that secondary airports in Europe are largely closed. This may mean that freighting rates to Europe will not fall as fast as rates from Europe.

UAE – According to Emirates Airlines, all of the airline’s Boeing 777s are operating at capacity, and 90 of these 777s are cargo-only. Demand for freight inbound to Australia is particularly high, with pharmaceuticals the biggest item on manifests. The average freight rate from Europe to Australia currently is approximately US$1–$1.50 per kilo. At the height of the pandemic, rates exceeded US$12 per kilo.

Market opportunities

Food & Agri

Kuwait – The permitted shelf-life for chilled vacuum-packed beef – which had been increased from 90 to 120 days – will revert to 90 days. This is due to meat from other markets (mainly Brazil) causing food health and safety issues. Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Department of Agriculture & Water Resources, and Austrade are attempting to seek an exemption from the Kuwaiti Authorities for Australian meats to maintain the 120 day shelf-life standard.

UAE – Etihad Airways confirmed on October 11 that it will indefinitely delay the resumption of Brisbane–Abu Dhabi flights. Etihad said the reason was due to restrictions on international arrivals.

Morocco – Demand for top-quality beef is rising – despite high local tariffs. A local importer/customer is about to launch an online delivery platform of high-end beef to final consumers, the first of this kind in the market. It will also supply top-end food service facilities in the country. Market research suggests the emergence of an affluent market segment that is willing to pay for Australian Angus and Wagyu. Currently, meat tariffs can vary from 10% on beef patties to 200% on prime cuts.


Egypt – Austrade Riyadh is assisting the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources regarding a Salt Mine venture and the El Maghara Coal Mine. The Government wants assistance so the mining sector’s work procedures match international standards. The Government is also interested in accessing advisory services that will aid reform and help in establishing a specialised mining college in Egypt – perhaps in collaboration with a reputable Australian university.

Nigeria – The Nigerian Government is implementing a comprehensive plan to diversify its economy away from oil and towards the ‘solid’ mineral sector. Gold is one opportunity. Currently, mining contributes just 0.5% to Nigeria’s GDP, and expansion will require an influx of technology and expertise. Austrade is assessing the opportunities for Australian METS companies.

Nigeria – The Nigerian Government has moved to implement a regulatory framework for the artisanal mining sector, and to prevent the illegal exploitation of gold resources. Earlier initiatives include the establishment of a gold processing centre, to be fully operational within 24 months. The government has also triggered the creation of the country’s first gold and precious metals-refining conglomerate, which will be a subsidiary of the Dukia Gold & Precious Metals Refining Company.

South Africa – The Mineral Council of South Africa has announced a new Mining Charter, to promote development in the mining industry. The Charter requires greater commitment from foreign companies operating in the resources sector. This means Australian METS companies may need to either partner with a local South African company to supply into the country’s mining industry, or consider registering a local subsidiary company.

Education & EdTech

UAE – UAE universities are reducing their operational costs and investing in R&D to maintain and improve world rankings. As a result they are interested in research collaborations with Australian universities that will in the long run lead to commercial outcomes. Traditionally, the focus on R&D has been low in the UAE. Initial areas of focus will be on genetics (human and agricultural); clean and renewable energy; aerospace (including space) and supply chains and logistics. Governments in the UAE are announcing directives to improve research: the focus in Abu Dhabi is on corporate research, and policies aim to create a link between academia and researchers to develop new innovative products.

UAE – There is rising interest in ed-tech. School programs are currently designed for face-to-face delivery and the quality of online education appears to be lagging other advanced economies. In particular, curricula have not been re-designed for distance learning. Now, schools are beginning to embrace advanced learning and aligning their curricula to adaptive learning, including via virtual reality and artificial intelligence. This creates opportunities for Australian edtech businesses.

Africa – Education institutions in West Africa and East Africa are increasing their uptake of EdTech across the region, in particular e-learning frameworks that will guide curricula development at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Austrade will showcase Australian capability to policy makers in the region to facilitate the market entry of Australian EdTech to education platforms and service providers.

Health & med-tech

Sub-Saharan Africa – Australian companies are a growing presence in healthcare in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Companies with targeted and disruptive offerings in the health-tech industry are entering or expanding across the region. Examples include artificial intelligence-powered clinical coding in Kenya, and molecular diagnostics in South Africa. Due to COVID-19, more governments in the SSA region are committing to providing universal health coverage and improving their spending on the sector.

Sub-Saharan Africa – Changes in health policy may create new opportunities for Australian telemedicine providers. Governments across sub-Saharan Africa are trying to minimise the movement of people as they move from regional areas to cities to seek medical assistance. Currently, banks, telecoms-providers and private health-service companies are partnering to provide customers with an array of e-health products. These services aim to enable doctors to diagnose, conduct investigations, and treat and remotely monitor patients for general medical problems.

Kenya & Nigeria – Telecommunications companies and local telemedicine service providers are partnering to scale up telemedicine solutions, which include internet consultation and diagnosis. The insurance sector is supporting initiatives by reimbursing costs associated with services. These strategic partnerships provide an opportunity for Australian companies, including those involved in drone technology, telemedicine, online pharmacies, remote disease-tracking and remote patient-monitoring systems.


Dubai – New themes will create fresh opportunities for Australian exporters at EXPO 2020 Dubai, now scheduled for October 2021. ‘Innovation’ has been added to ‘Sustainability’, ‘Education’ and ‘Partnering for economic growth’. The DFAT and Austrade Expo taskforce is conducting programming workshops with the states and territories – and industry stakeholders – to validate Australia’s priorities post-COVID.


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