AfREC and DFAT link research, policy and community with High Commissioner-designate to Nigeria

AfREC and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) WA State Office co-convened a lunch meeting at UWA with Australia’s High Commissioner-designate to Nigeria, Ms Claire Ireland, on 10 June 2019. The meeting brought together Ms Ireland, AfREC researchers and WA African-Australian community leaders to explore how to deepen links between research, government policy, the African continent and African diaspora communities in Australia.

In announcing the appointment of High Commissioner-designate Ms Ireland on 2 March 2019, Foreign Minister Marise Payne stated:

Today I announce the appointment of Ms Claire Ireland as Australia’s next High Commissioner to Nigeria. Ms Ireland will also have nonresident accreditation to Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Niger and The Gambia.

The Nigerian economy has grown over the past decade and is the largest in Africa. Nigeria is Australia’s second-largest trading partner on the continent, with two-way trade totaling $1.3 billion in 2017-18. Australia’s economic engagement with Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Niger and The Gambia, is also increasing, particularly in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

Australia and Nigeria share a longstanding relationship with growing people-to-people links. We work closely in the Commonwealth and the United Nations to promote peace, prosperity and democracy. Australia supports Nigeria’s efforts to counter terrorism and combat violent extremism.

Ms Ireland is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently Counsellor, Economic and Development Cooperation, Australian Embassy, Hanoi. Ms Ireland holds a Master of Science, Imperial College London; and a Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Salford.

I thank outgoing High Commissioner Paul Lehmann for his contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in Nigeria since 2015.

The meeting at UWA, chaired by AfREC Director Dr David Mickler, was attended by community leaders Mr Joe Tuazama, President of the Organisation of African Communities in WA (OACWA), Dr Peter Oyewopo, President of the Nigerian Association of WA (NAWA) and Mr Tommy Adebayo, President of the African Professionals Australia, along with AfREC Fellows and Postgraduate Fellows who have connections to Nigeria.

The meeting canvassed a range of themes including the growing regional and global significance of Nigeria, challenges faced by the country, Australia’s relations with Nigeria and the other countries of accreditation, issues of importance to Nigerian-Australian communities, government policy and processes around visas, and how to deepen engagement between Nigerian and Australian universities. The University of Ibadan is currently the Nigerian university representative in the Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN).

Ms Ireland was presented with a copy of AfREC Research Fellow Nikola Pijovic’s new book Australia and Africa: A New Friend from the South?

AfREC would like to thank DFAT WA for co-convening the lunch meeting, community leaders for participating, and expresses best wishes to Ms Ireland for this important posting.

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