• Bernice Owen Jones, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, speaking at the Diplomatic Dialogue series. With her is Kofi Abotsi, Dean, UPSA Law School
• Bernice Owen Jones, the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, speaking at the Diplomatic Dialogue series. With her is Kofi Abotsi, Dean, UPSA Law School

Australia seeks to expand influence in Africa — High Commissioner

The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Bernice Owen Jones, has stated that country is seeking to strengthen its cooperation with Africa. 

She said Australia had a global interest that would be built on shared “economic and strategic interest” with Africa and Ghana.  

“We are strengthening our partnerships with Africa to promote an international system based on rules, tackling climate change, and growing our economic links,” she said.  

Diplomatic Dialogue

Ms Jones was speaking on the second edition of the Diplomatic Dialogue series on the topic “Complicated geopolitics, African partnerships and Australia’s place in the world”.

The maiden edition of the Diplomatic Dialogue series welcomed the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Virginia E. Palmer, who spoke on the topic “Global Crisis, African Conundrums, and US Foreign Policy”.

The dialogue is an initiative of the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) Law School to create a platform to stimulate discourse on foreign policy, geopolitical dynamics and international law.

The dialogue series, held on the UPSA campus, was attended by the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar, deans, heads of departments, students and the media.

Diversifying ties

Ms Jones said although Australian mining companies were making a meaningful development in Africa, “Australia needs to diversify economic links into education, green energy, food, agriculture, science, and technology”.

The Australian High Commissioner further stressed that the country had targeted programmes where there was an exchange of “knowledge and strengthening skills in agriculture, food security, climate change adaptation, renewable energy and the economic empowerment of women”.

She expressed worry over the deteriorating security situation on the continent and the spread of terrorist groups, and added that the country had made targeted contributions to improve the capacity of African countries to provide security.

“Australia is focusing on countering violent extremism by funding counterterrorism academy in Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya,” she added.

Climate change

Ms Jones explained that climate change was having a severe impact on global food and security, and as a result, Austrialia had pledged $15 million to support Africa for “emergency assistance and respond to various food and security crisis.

She said Australia also had targeted digital platforms with satellite images which gave “decision-makers major sense of what is happening from crop mapping to urban planning”.

The Australian High Commissioner disclosed that the country wanted to advocate reforms at the UN Security Council to include permanent representation for Africa, stressing that this was “overdue”.

Ms Jones further expressed her desire to generate two-way economic opportunities, and expressed optimism that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area would create more opportunities for Australia to trade with African countries.

She pledged her support for UPSA through collaboration with universities in Australia to train UPSA law faculty members, and further encouraged students to take advantage of scholarship opportunities available to foreign nationals to study in Australia.

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