The Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, began an African tour this Saturday that will take her to Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia between March 25 and April 1. This will be the first time she has visited the African continent since her vice-presidential inauguration in 2021, while sources close to the White House say Harris’s top priority in her visit will be to counter the (always) growing Chinese influence in Africa. He will meet with the presidents of the three countries and discuss issues related to economic development, food security, climate change and the growing number of the youth population.
The prevailing tension between China and the United States, whose baton leads Harris on the North American side, it thus seeks a new playground in Africa. “We are not asking our partners in Africa to choose”Describing the competition with China, a senior official told Reuters, adding that the US has “real concerns about China’s behavior in Africa” and its “opaque” trade dealings. The position of the United States regarding Chinese action in Africa has remained constant throughout the years. Knowing that the Asian giant had donated more than 41,000 million dollars to the less favored continent, former President Bill Clinton came to speak of a “new colonialism” in Africa, referring to the double side of the Chinese coin: investment and exploitation. .
Ghana, Harris’ first stop, has received massive amounts of Chinese investment associated with hydroelectric dams, roads and oil extraction. Ghana is also considered one of the three African countries with the most Chinese investment. Zambia, the last stop on the vice president’s tour, also falls within this group of three nations that Nigeria would complete. In addition to having invested 2,100 million dollars in the Zambian defense system, the Asian country has developed sanitary programs, roads and civil constructions and hydroelectric dams. All this to extract generous amounts of copper in collaboration with the Zambian government, to the point where, today, China is the second largest recipient of Zambian copper exports (in official terms it receives around 2,000 million dollars in copper, behind only Switzerland).
But all that glitters with the Chinese label is not gold. Of the $17 billion of debt Zambia holds, $6 billion is owed to China. It is money that costs to pay. And, since the coronavirus crisis, paying is simply impossible. It is for this reason that the US Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, asked China to restructure the country’s debt in January, considering that such a debt package hampers, if not impedes, Zambia’s chances of progress. Harris will offer himself to the African country as a comfortable alternative to the Chinese debt, as well as a strong ally to deal with the financial imbalances suffered by those from Lusaka.
Like France and Russia, the United States has entered fully into the exercise of a diplomatic offensive in African territory. The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, already has visited the continent twice Since the start of the war in Ukraine: South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Niger, Ethiopia and Rwanda have been his chosen destinations, where Blinken has served as a mediator in the conflicts that plague these countries. Kamala Harris seems to be in charge of fighting China on the diplomatic battlefield, just like in Taiwan, for which Blinken establishes an image of the United States as appeasing and interested in African problems.
The vice president will also meet with youth representatives from the three countries, knowing that the average age of the continent is 19 years and that half of the world’s young population will be African in the coming decades. The White House press representatives wanted to point out that the objective of the US administration is to deepen and reconfigure relations between the United States and Africa, seeking not only to grant aid packages, but to position the continent as a suitable place for growth and investment.