Kamala Harris lands in Ghana on a mission to get Africa to ‘expand their options’ beyond China
Kamala Harris landed in Ghana on Sunday to begin a three-nation African tour designed to counter the growing influence of China on the continent.
Accompanied by her husband Doug Emhoff, Harris was greeted at the airport by a group of brightly-clad dancers performing traditional welcome dances.
Senior administration officials, previewing her visit, said Harris would be asking the leaders not to ‘choose’ between the US and China – but to ‘expand’ their options.
China has invested heavily in Africa in recent decades, including in infrastructure and resource development, while Russian influence has also grown, including through the deployment of troops from Russia’s private military contractor Wagner Group to aid governments in several countries.
Kamala Harris is seen arriving in Accra, the capital of Ghana, on Sunday and being greeted by the vice president of Ghana, Mahamudu Bawumia
Ghana was the first stop in Harris’ three-nation African visit
Harris (R) said the visit would be addressing such issues as climate crisis, increasing food security, and increasing investment on the continent
Ghana is facing an economic crisis with inflation at more than 50 percent and its cedi currency down sharply, hit by the adverse effects of the global pandemic and Ukraine crisis.
Ghana has agreed on a $3 billion credit deal with the IMF to tackle its economic crisis. It is also in talks with China on its problems.
She insisted, however, that the trip was about helping Africa entice investment.
‘On this trip I intend to do work that is focused on increasing investments here on the continent and facilitating economic growth and opportunity,’ said Harris, shortly after touching down.
The Biden administration has sought to strengthen ties with Africa, in part to offer an alternative to rival powers.
In December, ahead of a US-Africa summit, the US committed $55 billion to the continent over the next three years.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $150 million in new humanitarian aid for Africa’s Sahel region during a visit to Niger this month.
Biden is yet to visit Africa as president.
Harris is seen receiving gifts from Ghanaian children upon arrival in Accra
The vice president told Ghanaians she was excited to be there, and looking forward to working with them on areas of mutual cooperation
School children are seen waving Ghanaian and US flags at the airport in Accra
Harris is greeted by well-wishers upon arrival in Ghana on Sunday
On this trip, Harris will also discuss China’s engagement in technology and economic issues in Africa that concern the United States, as well as China’s involvement in debt restructuring, senior US officials said last week.
Harris was received in Ghana’s capital Accra by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and senior government officials.
Accompanied by drumming and dancing, school children welcomed her with miniature flags of Ghana at the Kotoka International Airport.
In brief remarks, Harris said her visit gives her the opportunity to deepen the relationship between the United States and African partners.
‘We are looking forward to this trip as a further statement of the long and enduring and very important relationship and friendship between the people of the United States and those who live on the continent of Africa,’ Harris said.
‘I am very excited about the future of Africa. I am very excited about the impact of the future of Africa on the rest of the world including the United States of America,’ she said.
She said the visit would be addressing such issues as the climate crisis, increasing food security, and increasing investment on the continent.
Harris is expected to meet entrepreneurs, students, women and farmers while in Ghana and will also visit the historic Cape Coast Castle where slaves were kept 400 years ago.
She would hold bilateral talks with President Nana Akufo-Addo and meet civil society representatives.
The Californian-born vice president is seen with her Ghanaian counterpart, Mahamudu Bawumia
Mahamudu Bawumia welcomed Harris on Sunday. She will stay in the country from March 26-29, then in Tanzania from March 29-31. Her final stop is Zambia, on March 31 and April 1.
On Wednesday she will depart Accra for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in continuation of her African tour.
The December summit in Washington was the first of its kind since African leaders came in 2014 to see Barack Obama.
Africa has become more heated as a diplomatic battleground following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and Russian security involvements in several countries on the continent.
In September, Biden called for an African permanent seat on the UN Security Council, backed a permanent African Union role in the Group of 20 economies and said he was planning a visit – the first by a US president since 2015 – to sub-Saharan Africa. .
His wife, Jill Biden, reiterated the commitment to helping African nations get a louder voice at the UN and other international bodies on a trip to Namibia and Kenya in February.