Trump is sending the head of OPIC to Kenya with plans to boost US investment in the wake of China’s growing influence

China's influence as an investor in Africa has grown tremendously in recent years

Ray Washburne is expected to meet Kenyan officials to outline his agency's three-year, $1 billion "Connect Africa" initiative.

OPIC, the United States government's development finance institution, is seeking to support the 470-kilometre, $3 billion Nairobi-Mombasa Expressway scheduled to begin construction this month under American contractor, Bechtel.

The visit comes at a time when China's influence as an investor in Africa has grown tremendously in recent years with the US seeking ways on how to better compete with the East Asian nation.

“The Chinese are in with ports and railroads and highways -- things that we need to be in as a competitor," Mr Washburne said last week during a stop in South Africa.

Turnaround

He also repeated Trump administration warnings that China's $126 billion "Belt and Road" investment initiative is saddling African countries with crushing levels of debt.

The new legislation recently approved by the US House would double Opic's access to US government credits to a total of $60 billion.

The scale up points to a turnaround in the White House's approach to both OPIC and Africa.

President Trump had previously sought to kill Opic while at the same time offering few positive remarks about Africa.

However, with the new proposal, Opic would be renamed the International Development Finance Corporation to highlight its primary purpose of helping US businesses make much greater investments in Africa and other developing regions.

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