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On Saturday Vice President Kamala Harris will begin a historic first trip while in office to Africa, with stops scheduled in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia during her weeklong tour of the continent.
She continues the Biden administration’s outreach to African countries amid competition from China and their growing influence on the continent, where countries have forged trade and other ties with Beijing.
US competition with China and Putin’s war in Ukraine effects African countries
Senior administration officials said Harris will be asking the leaders not to “choose” between the U.S. and China but to “expand” their options, according to ABC News.
“We can’t ignore the current geopolitical moment. It’s no secret that we are engaged in competition with China. And we’ve said very clearly we intend to out-compete China in the long term,” the officials said.
Harris will hold bilateral meetings in each country that will involve “wide-ranging discussions” on regional security, democracy, strengthening business ties, debt relief and restructuring and the impact on Africa from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, officials said.
“Russia’s war is not only hurting the people of Ukraine and Europe, but it’s hurting Africans and others around the world by generating rising food and commodity prices that are actually having a disproportional impact on African countries,” the administration officials said Thursday.
VP Kamala Harris to spend week meeting with the motherland
Harris departs Washington on Saturday evening and arrives in Ghana on Sunday afternoon, though her first engagements will take place on Monday, beginning with a bilateral meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo, followed by a visit to a local recording studio in Accra.
On Tuesday she is set to deliver a “major speech to an audience of young people,” tour Cape Coast Castle and “speak about the brutality of slavery and the African Diaspora” from that location as well.
Also in Accra on Wednesday, Harris will meet with women entrepreneurs and discuss the economic empowerment of women.
During that meeting, senior administration officials said, Harris is expected to announce a “series of continent-wide, public and private sector investments to help close the digital gender divide and to empower women economically more broadly.”
Harris travels to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Wednesday afternoon and on Thursday she begins the day meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
The vice president will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy there, and she will meet with entrepreneurs at a tech incubator and coworking space.
Next Friday, March 31, Harris departs Tanzania for Lusaka where she will meet with President Hakainde Hichilema.
And on April 1, she will focus on climate adaptation and resilience and food security, along with a convening of “business and philanthropic leaders from both the continent and for the United States to discuss digital and financial inclusion on the continent,” administration officials said.
Vice President Harris arrives back in Washington on April 2.