Brendan BerneToday I announce the appointment of Mr Paul Lehmann as Australia's next High Commissioner to Nigeria.  Mr Lehmann will also have non-resident accreditation to Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Niger and The Gambia.

Australia and Nigeria have a longstanding bilateral relationship.  We work closely together in the Commonwealth and the United Nations to promote peace, prosperity and democracy, including during our recent overlapping terms on the United Nations Security Council.  Australia and Nigeria are also cooperating on counter terrorism and combatting violent extremism.

The Nigerian economy has grown strongly over the past decade and is now the largest in Africa.  Nigeria is Australia’s second-largest trading partner on the continent, with two-way trade totalling $1.835 billion in 2014.  Major Australian companies are active in infrastructure and mining, and wheat sales in particular have increased.

Australia’s economic engagement with the countries of non-resident accreditation is increasing, particularly in the mining and oil and gas sectors.

Mr Lehmann is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  Until recently, he was Assistant Secretary of the Consular Operations Branch.  Prior to that, he served for two and a half years as Minister Counsellor (Development) at the Australian Embassy in Kabul.

In Canberra, Mr Lehmann has filled a number of senior roles, including positions responsible for human resource management, corporate services, development policy, humanitarian assistance and bilateral aid program delivery in the former AusAID. 

Mr Lehmann holds a Bachelor of Architecture Studies and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Adelaide.

He is expected to take up his appointment in December 2015.  I thank outgoing High Commissioner, Mr Jon Richardson, for his contribution to advancing Australia’s interests in Nigeria since 2013.

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