Africa has become an area of interest for world power United States and its rival China as the latter has gained access to the continent’s markets after massive investments in infrastructure projects and provision of aid.
The U.S. provides billions of dollars in aid to Africa annually yet it is losing its grip on the continent especially after President Donald Trump’s reported statement calling Africa a “shithole” country.
Trump denied the reports after an uproar from African countries, and in turn, he outlined a strategy to reignite the United State’s relationship with the developing continent that is largely dependent on aid.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson started his week-long African tour in Ethiopia on Wednesday which is the Trump administration’s first top diplomatic trip to Africa. The trip seeks to strengthen security alliances in the face of terrorism threats in the continent.
Tillerson will visit Kenya and Djibouti after he meets the government of Ethiopia and the African Union in Addis Ababa. Djibouti has recently opened its doors to China which has opened a military base in the strategically placed Horn of Africa country.
It is reported that Djibouti is planning to hand over the operation of its Doraleh Container Terminal to China after it terminated its contract with Dubai’s DP World over the failure of the United Arab Emirates to resolve a 2012 territorial dispute with Eritrea.
A top U.S. military commander overseeing troops in Africa, Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, said during a congressional hearing on Tuesday that if China placed restrictions on the port’s use, it could affect resupplying the U.S. base in Djibouti and the ability of Navy ships to refuel there, reports Reuters.
“There are some indications of (China) looking for additional facilities, specifically on the eastern coast. … So Djibouti happens to be the first, there will be more,” he added.
Tillerson downplayed China’s role in Africa by saying the U.S. was promoting “sustainable growth” while China “encouraged dependency.”
China recently pledged $124 billion for its Silk Road plan to expand links between Asia, Africa, Europe and the rest of the world covering more than 68 countries.
Tillerson also announced the provision of more than $533 million in humanitarian aid for victims of conflicts and drought in Africa. He will visit Chad and Nigeria in West Africa where the threats of Islamist group Boko Haram has left millions displaced and thousands killed.
In neighbouring Ghana, the president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stressed on the need for his country and Africa at large to wean off aid to be able to develop.
“…there will never be enough aid to develop Ghana to the level we want. Aid was never meant to be what would bring us to the status of a developed nation,” he said in an address during Ghana’s independence day parade on Tuesday.
“Ghana Beyond Aid is meant to be more than a slogan. It is meant to propel us into the frame of mind that would quicken our pace of development. It is meant to change our mindset from one of dependency to one of achieving our destiny. It is meant to put us in charge of our own affairs, and make us truly independent. Above all, Ghana Beyond Aid will give us the respect and dignity we deserve,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ghana and more than 40 African countries continue to receive aid from the United States.