Tillerson Makes His First Trip To Africa As Secretary Of State
Tillerson Makes His First Trip To Africa As Secretary Of State
US Secretary Of State To Visit Nigeria Next Week
08 March, 2018, 02:09
Speaking on "U.S. -Africa Relations: A New Framework", he said over the past century, as African nations emerged from their colonial past, there had been a dramatic increase in America's engagement with Africa.
"My firm belief is that there is ample opportunity on the continent for economic growth, for greater prosperity, and for responding to global challenges through mutually respectful partnerships", Tillerson said.
U.S. budgetary priorities tell a different story.
The State Department said that about $184 million would go to help those affected by conflict in South Sudan and $110 million for those in Somalia.
For Tillerson, who did not visit Africa during his first year as the top US diplomat, it may be that the best way to show deference to a continent suspicious of Trump is to listen.
In an administration that has often struggled for coherence in its foreign policy, and which lives by the maxim of America First, it would be unrealistic to expect Secretary Tillerson to deliver a transformation in the relationship between U.S. and Africa.
In a speech Tuesday outlining the Trump administration's Africa policy, Tillerson said the United States is "eager" to lower barriers to trade and investment in Africa, whose largest trading partner by far is China. But seeing as one of the objectives of the visit is to "spur mutually beneficial trade and investment", the Secretary of State can help us make sense of the USA trade policies towards Africa.
Tillerson will arrive Wednesday in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, now under a state of emergency to control anti-government protests. About 100 protesters gathered outside Tillerson's Washington office the day before his departure.
Security and counter-terrorism will be high on his agenda in Djibouti, Chad and Nigeria.
China is aggressively working to expand its regional influence, which is something of concern to US lawmakers. Another top concern is African nations' growing indebtedness to Beijing, which is building infrastructure across the continent.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, previewing Tillerson's trip, Dona Yamamoto, acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs, stressed the need for investment in girls' education and entrepreneurial and youth development programs.
Tillerson will also visit Kenya, where the political system is in turmoil over disputes related to President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election.
The amount was part of the $533m aid the U.S.is handing out to the country alongside the people of Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and countries in the Lake Chad region.
The trip comes as the Trump administration reverses course - again - on whether to let Americans import the body parts of African elephants shot for recreation.
His announcement of more humanitarian assistance for several countries threatened by starvation will be welcomed, but Tillerson works for a president who has repeatedly spoken of reducing America's burdens overseas.
In Ethiopia, for example, total US investment of around $567 million, is dwarfed by Chinese investments, which are more than $15 billion, according to the State Department.
Of the newly-announced funds, almost $184 million is for affected populations in South Sudan and more than $110 million is for millions vulnerable in Ethiopia.
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