Australia commits to closer ties with West Africa

Media release

15 June 2012

The Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) has created a new Trade Commissioner position for Accra, Ghana, as part of its broader expansion in the growth areas of West Africa.

Trade and Competitiveness Minister Craig Emerson said today Gordon Chakaodza, the inaugural Commissioner, would begin work in August this year.

Mr Chakaodza has extensive commercial experience and was formerly Austrade's National Manager, Mining and Resources.

He will be responsible for developing Australia's growing trade and investment ties with West Africa, and promoting Australian education and training.

Today's announcement follows the Government's decision to fund a new Embassy in Senegal, and is further demonstration of its commitment to the region.

Australia and Nigeria last year agreed to establish a Trade and Investment Council to explore joint business opportunities in West Africa's most populous country.

"Africa still faces many challenges, but the continent is entering a bright new phase of stability and growth," Dr Emerson said.

"West Africa in particular is rich in natural resources, and Australia stands ready to support countries in the region as they strive to reach their economic potential."

Australian resource companies already have around 90 projects in West Africa, including mines, processing plants and production facilities, and Australian investment is growing.

Australia's current and projected investment in Africa as a whole is estimated at well over US$50 billion.

"This investment has brought benefits to local communities and comes with high environmental, health and safety standards," Dr Emerson said.

David Landers, Austrade General Manager, Growth and Emerging Markets, said the appointment of a Trade Commissioner to Ghana reflected expanding business opportunities for Australian companies in West Africa.

"Austrade is ready to help Australian companies develop their businesses in Ghana and the surrounding nations of West Africa," Mr Landers said.

"We will also be actively promoting Australian education and training in these markets."

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