US Secretary of State to visit Nigeria, Kenya, three others

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke about the US relationship with Africa before heading on a trip to the continent

The United States will give more than US$533 million (RM2.079 billion) in humanitarian aid for victims of conflicts and drought in Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is starting a landmark tour of African nations this week.

The United States has donated almost $3bn humanitarian assistance to African countries facing one form of crisis or the other since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017 and has also encouraged additional contributions to meet growing needs. Trump later denied making the comment. During his meetings in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad, and Nigeria, Tillerson said he will engage leaders on issues ranging from counter-terrorism and governance to trade and investment.

With the USA recessional from Africa, save for security issues, African states are turning to other partners, notably China, France, and the EU.

On Monday, acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Donald Yamamoto confirmed the meeting between President Uhuru and Tillerson, although he did not disclose what will be discussed.

"40 years ago this month, President Jimmy Carter visited Liberia and Nigeria, where he announced that "our nation has now turned in an unprecedented way toward Africa".

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He will spend about a week on the continent visiting countries that play key roles in addressing Africa's security challenges, including Nigeria, Chad and Djibouti, which houses the only permanent US military base in Africa.

In a telephonic conference with journalists on the continent from Washington, Yamamoto, said the visit will focus on Africa's demographic growth, issues of economic growth like unemployment and how the continent could be helped in its democratic journey.

Stremlau said instead of diplomatic engagement, America's approach in Africa is increasingly militaristic. There is still no assistant secretary of state for Africa, no USA ambassador to South Africa, and numerous other Africa-related positions remain unfilled.

Trump has said he wants to cut the budgets for foreign aid and the State Department by a third. The energy behemoth has significant business dealings in sub-Saharan Africa, including in Chad, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. The trip hardly appears to be a "reset" by the Trump administration in its approach to Africa.

Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Don Yamamoto told journalists on Monday that US diplomats were becoming concerned about the high levels of Chinese debt some nations were incurring. He also said the United States supported the creation of a development finance institution for Africa.

"We're seeing countries at 50 percent, 100 percent, and in one case 200 percent of GDP debt based on concessionary loans from China". But seeing as one of the objectives of the visit is to "spur mutually beneficial trade and investment", the Secretary of State can help us make sense of the USA trade policies towards Africa.

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