Mark SawersToday I announce the appointment of Mr Mark Sawers as Australia’s next Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with concurrent responsibility for Australia’s relations with the African Union and non-resident accreditation to Djibouti.

Mr Sawers is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Until recently, he was the Director of the East Asia Summit and Regional Forums Section in Canberra. He has previously served overseas as High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, as DFAT Adviser to the Commander of the International Stabilisation Force in Timor Leste and as First Secretary, later Counsellor in our mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Mr Sawers holds a Bachelor of Arts from Melbourne University, and Masters degrees in Public Administration, International Law and Strategic and Defence Studies.

Australia enjoys warm bilateral relations with Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa and one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The relationship is strengthened by Australia’s Ethiopian-born community which has grown steadily to about 8,500. Ethiopia opened an Embassy in Canberra in December 2013.

Ethiopia is the seat of the African Union, the premier organisation promoting regional continental, integration and peace and security in Africa. Mr Sawers will work to advance Australia’s cooperation with the African Union on global issues, including peace and security, trade and investment and development cooperation. The African Union is playing an increasingly important role in international affairs, including in Somalia and South Sudan. Australia has actively engaged in addressing security challenges such as these through its membership of the UN Security Council in 2013-14.

Australia is expected to provide $186.9 million in Australian Official Development Assistance to sub-Saharan Africa in 2014-15, focused on promoting economic growth, trade and job creation, in particular through investments in the extractives and agriculture sectors. Australia will provide around 500 Australia Awards scholarships to Africa in 2014.

Mr Sawers is expected to take up his appointment in October. I thank outgoing Ambassador Lisa Filipetto for her work in strengthening Australia’s relations with Ethiopia and the African Union since 2010.

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