Vice President Kamala Harris will embark on a week-long trip to Africa this weekend as the United States tries to position itself as a better partner than China, which has invested heavily in the continent for decades.
Harris will discuss China’s involvement in technology and economic issues in Africa that are of concern to the United States, as well as China’s involvement in debt restructuring, senior US officials said.
One of the three countries Harris will visit is Zambia, which became the first African country to default on its national debt during the COVID-19 pandemic and is working toward a deal with its creditors, including China.
“We are not asked to choose our partners in Africa,” one senior official said of the rivalry with China, although the US is “really concerned about China’s behavior in Africa and its ‘opaque’ business dealings.”
Harris will be in Ghana from March 26-29 and then in Tanzania from March 29-31. His last stops will be Zambia on March 31 and April 1. He plans to meet the presidents of the three countries and announce investments in the public and private sectors.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said Harris will discuss how the international community can best address Ghana and Zambia’s debt problems.
The White House hosted a summit of African leaders in December, and President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Africa this year.
Harris has a personal connection to Zambia. Her maternal grandfather worked in the country and she met him there as a girl.
“The Vice President is very much looking forward to returning to Lusaka, which is part of his family’s story and pride,” an official said.
Harris will meet with young leaders and business representatives to discuss topics such as climate change and food insecurity.
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