Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Media release

10 January 2008

Diplomatic Appointment - High Commissioner to Ghana

I have confirmed the appointment of Mr Billy Williams as Australia’s new High Commissioner to the Republic of Ghana. Mr Williams will succeed Jon Richardson who has been High Commissioner since June 2004. He is expected to take up his appointment in February 2008.

Australia and Ghana enjoy positive relations based on solid commercial links and like-minded views on many international issues. Australia and Ghana have a history of constructive cooperation in international bodies and organisations, particularly the Commonwealth, of which Ghana is one of Africa’s most active and respected members.

Ghana is currently Australia's third largest market in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2006, Australian merchandise exports to Ghana totaled $93 million, of which the principal items were specialised machinery, civil engineering equipment and dairy products. In the same period, Australian imports from Ghana were valued at $10 million and consisted mainly of cocoa and timber products. As an agricultural exporting country like Australia, Ghana has been active in calling for the reform of global agricultural trade within the World Trade Organisation.

A significant dynamic in Australia’s relations with Africa in recent years has been the growth of new Australian mining investment throughout Africa with over 80 companies active in the continent, including in West Africa. A number of Australian mining companies operate in Ghana’s mining sector, primarily in gold mining. Australian companies based in Ghana are significant providers of mining services such as exploration, drilling, engineering, consulting and contracting.

The re-opening of an Australian mission in Accra in mid-2004, and the subsequent re-opening of Ghana’s High Commission in Canberra in 2005, reflect Australia’s growing engagement with Ghana and the West Africa region.

Mr Williams will also have accreditation to a number of other West African countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

Mr William (Billy) Williams has held a number of positions in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, including Director, International Media and Expos Section (2006-07), Director, Africa Section (2001-02), and Director, Olympic and Sports Section (1995-2000). Overseas, Mr Williams has served as Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission, Pretoria (2002-06) and as First Secretary (Public Affairs), Kuala Lumpur (1990-93).

Mr Williams is a graduate of the Canberra College of Advanced Education and the Australian National University. He is married with three adult children.

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