The First Assistant Secretary, Africa and Middle East Division of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms H.K. Hu, who disclosed this, said the assistance was to help build the capacities of security agencies in West Africa to help tackle the increasing security threats, particularly terrorism.
“I’m extremely pleased to announce that the Australian government will be contributing 75,000 Australian dollars towards an inter-agency counter-terrorism course to be run by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre.”
Ms Hu was speaking at a press briefing in Accra yesterday that preceded the start of a one-day West Africa Mining Security Conference hosted by the Australian High Commission.
“We believe that one of the key things that need to be done around security issues is to ensure that there is clear communication and information sharing channels, especially among different agencies.
“We hope that this contribution will go a long way to help West Africa deal with this emerging security issue in the most efficient and effective way,” she said.
Although the press was not allowed into the conference, Ms Hu said more than 200 participants from West Africa and Europe were expected to attend the event, which brought together academics, security practitioners, subject matter experts, diplomats and the mining community to discuss strategic security trends in West Africa.
It provided senior mining company employees with information on the social, economic, political and environmental factors that might impact on the security and safety of employees and mining operations, while assisting them to make strategic investment decisions for their operations in the region.
Ms Hu explained that a country’s strong security system guaranteed economic growth and expressed the commitment of Australia to support West African countries to attain that status.
Throwing light on the conference, she said: “Australian mining companies have enormous interest and huge amounts of investments in West Africa which they do not want to come under any threat. The conference is organised so that we share all the intelligence information that we have on hand about how to keep ourselves safe and how we can actually assist countries to also deal with the issues that are emerging.”
The Australian High Commissioner in Accra, Mr Andrew Barnes, for his part, said the meeting would, among other things, give participants the opportunity to raise concerns and suggest ways to strengthen security in West Africa, as security threats were costly, for which reason it was prudent for companies to be prepared for any threat.
He explained that in response to some concerns raised by Australian mining companies operating in West Africa about kidnapping cases and terrorist threats and their desire to be well informed about the happenings and what to expect in the future, “we took to organise this conference.”
He said the Australian High Commission yesterday updated its foreign travel advice on Ghana, “but we haven’t raised the level”.
Mr Barnes said the commission had asked Australians travelling to or living in Ghana to be particular about their personal security, especially when using public transport, such as taxis and hailing services (online enabled platforms that connect passengers and drivers) such as Uber.