Wednesday, 25 April, 2018

United States pledges $533 million in aid to Africa, criticises Chinese investment

State Rex Tillerson with President Donald Trump. /REUTERS State Rex Tillerson with President Donald Trump. /REUTERS
Andrew Cummings | 07 March, 2018, 11:47

The US Department of State, during a background briefing on the first trip of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson to Africa, said such loans were unhelpful to the continent.

Tillerson's weeklong trip will take him from the east side of the continent to the west, with stops in Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Chad and Nigeria.

At that meeting, Tillerson had also stated the intention of the U.S.to refocus the relationship with Africa squarely on trade and investment, to help unlock the tremendous potential of the continent.

"I would certainly like to see the secretary reclaiming that moral ground, reclaiming very clear US commitment to values of inclusive governance, respect for fundamental human rights", Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told reporters ahead of Tillerson's trip.

"And I know that in the last administrations, even the last three, we have always said going to Nigeria is critical to stability and the future for the USA relationship in West Africa".

"And those are horrendous, they're unacceptable and bad".

"It has really very complex political issues and ethnic and tribal issues and security issues". "What has happened is that over the last 10 years the United States has not increased its engagement of African economies as much as others have", she adds, "so that has made it look like the USA is slipping behind". It's a comprehensive approach. It's only five countries out of over fifty and the trends that are going on for economic development, public health, education and agriculture, and governance have all been ignored and papered over by the constant talk of Boko Haram, or other insurgent movements in the arc of instability.

Tillerson said, "As we look at the 2019 elections, obviously Nigeria, though it's not this year - it's going to be next year - that really is a major priority focus, because that's going to be the third most populous country in the world by 2050".

It's very hard to know what's behind this trip, as you know Donald Trump insulted Africans two months ago in his reference to immigration, saying that these countries in Africa are all analogous to dirty toilets.

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"This growing population of young people, if left without jobs and a hope for the future, will create new ways for terrorists to exploit the next generation, subverting stability and derailing democratic governments", Tillerson said.

The department explained that obviously, a lot of those African countries were still fragile democracies and the U.S. was trying to strengthen them. He said the US was announcing another half-billion dollars in humanitarian assistance "to fight starvation and food insecurity" and address conflict-related needs.

The US also noted the election of Nana Akufo-Addo in Ghana, Alassane Ouattara in Cote d'Ivoire and Macky Sall in Senegal, describing them as you positive developments.

"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.

President Donald Trump's description of "shithole countries" in January was greeted with a mix of horror and outrage in Africa, where many don't know what to think about the USA president - or what he thinks of them.

It said it was also looking at how it could have reconciliation and dialogue among all of the various groups - the Oromos, the Amharas, the Tigrays, and also in Kenya with the opposition and with the ruling government.

China hopes that other countries will do more good for Africa's development and treat China-Africa cooperation in a fair and objective manner, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday.

As it had before, the USA launched with great fanfare a new initiative for commercial and economic engagement with Africa in 2000, says Ms. Hruby, former managing director of the Whitaker Group, an Africa-focused corporate strategy and investment advisory firm.

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