US Vice President Kamala Harris is on a nine-day trip to Africa from Sunday to three countries. Through travel he wants to improve relations between the continent and America. During the Trump administration, the United States ignored the African continent, while the Biden administration renewed interest in Africa.
“I am optimistic about the future and future of Africa,” Harris said in his first speech after arriving in Ghana. America wants to be a part of that future, which is why Harris will speak with political leaders in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia this week.
Food security, climate change and economic investments in the continent are high on the agenda. Earlier, US officials cited Africa’s debt and dependence on China as reasons for the visit.
The US government has been warning for some time about the growing influence of China and Russia on the African continent. China invests heavily in Africa and is the largest economic partner in all sectors of the economy. Russia invests mainly in military resources.
“Africa is going to chart its own course, they won’t just look to the West, like before,” says Mirjam de Bruyne, professor of African studies at Leiden University. “That’s why America is now going to the table with them, they want to maintain their influence in Africa.”
Economic growth pole
African raw materials in particular piqued the interest of the three superpowers. The continent is rich in raw materials such as lithium and cobalt, the most important raw materials for making batteries.
Additionally, Africa has been cited as one of the world’s growth poles, De Bruyne says. “Africa has a very young population, so there is a huge market.
African leaders don’t engage in geopolitical debate: “The United States may have an obsession with Chinese influence on the continent, but we don’t share that obsession,” Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo said during Harris’ visit.
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