US VP Harris to visit Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia in push to boost Africa links

President Samia Suluhu with US Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington DC in 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The US Vice President Kamala Harris will be the latest among 18 top American officials who have visited the continent since January this year.

US Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to three African countries this month, a statement said Monday, as Washington looks to strengthen diplomatic ties on the continent.

The trip to Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia from March 25 to April 2 comes after a December summit hosted by President Joe Biden in Washington with US leaders and counterparts from Africa, a continent where China and Russia have enjoyed rising clout.

Harris's tour aims to "strengthen the United States' partnerships throughout Africa and advance our shared efforts on security and economic prosperity," a statement from the vice president's office said.

She is due to meet with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania and President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia with topics including democracy, economic growth, food security and impacts of Russia's war in Ukraine on the agenda.

President Hassan met with Ms Harris at the White House in Washington in April last year, where they discussed bilateral cooperation.

"The Vice President will advance efforts to expand access to the digital economy, support climate adaptation and resilience, and strengthen business ties and investment," the statement added.

Harris will be accompanied by her husband, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, and is also due to meet with civil society representatives.

The December summit was the first of its kind since African leaders came in 2014 to see Barack Obama, whose successor Donald Trump made no secret of his lack of interest in Africa, which has become more heated as a diplomatic battleground following Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year.

In September, Biden called for an African permanent seat on the UN Security Council, backed a permanent African Union role in the Group of 20 economies and said he was planning a visit -- the first by a US president since 2015 -- to sub-Saharan Africa.

His wife, Jill Biden, reiterated the commitment to helping African nations get a louder voice at the UN and other international bodies on a trip to Namibia and Kenya in February.

Other top officials to visit the continent include US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield to market ‘American values’, including democracy and the fight against corruption and women empowerment.