Biden Administration Ramps Up Efforts to Build American Influence in Africa with VP Harris’ Weeklong Visit
The Biden administration is ramping up its efforts to build American influence in Africa, with Vice President Kamala Harris embarking on a weeklong visit to the continent. Harris' tour comes after First Lady Jill Biden and US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield also visited Africa, while Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to Ethiopia and Niger last week. President Joe Biden is also expected to visit the continent later this year. Harris' trip is part of the administration's efforts to strengthen ties with Africa, with officials saying it is part of President Biden's commitment to go “all-in on Africa.”
Harris is the fifth top administration official to visit Africa this year, following Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Her visit to Ghana, Tanzania, and Zambia is seen as an effort to counter China and Russia's expanding influence in Africa. The Biden administration has tried to paint its Africa policy as one based on long-lasting relationships rather than a larger move to counter China and choke off economic support for Russia. However, administration officials acknowledge that those global rivals do factor into their view of current US-Africa policy.
Harris' visit will focus on democracy, climate change, security, the economy, and the impact of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. She will also announce public- and private-sector investments in the three countries she will visit. Harris' trip, along with other visits by US officials, is seen as an effort to offer an alternative to rival powers and bolster democracy on the continent.
In Ghana, Harris announced a significant new US financial support package for Ghana and a handful of other nations in the region. She also visited the Cape Coast Slave Castle, a former slave-trade outpost and location of the so-called “Door of No Return,” where she delivered remarks on the “brutality of slavery and the African diaspora.” Harris met with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo to discuss economic and regional stability, and speak with reporters afterward.
The Biden administration is seeking to expand African options, not limit them, and is not asking African partners to choose between the US and China. Harris' visit, which includes meetings with entrepreneurs, students, women, and farmers, is an opportunity to deepen the relationship between the US and African partners. As Harris said, “I intend to do work that is focused on increasing investments here on the continent and facilitating economic growth and opportunity.”
Harris' trip is part of the administration's efforts to increase investment in Africa and facilitate economic growth and opportunity. As Harris noted, “I am very excited about the impact of Africa on the rest of the world, including the United States of America.” With a current median age of 19, African nations are poised to become a center of international relations in the coming decades. The Biden administration's charm offensive with Africa is ramping up in a big way, with US officials continuing to make visits to shore up diplomatic relations as Russia and China challenge American influence over the continent.
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