US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected in Africa from March 7 on a 5 nation tour that is not capturing the imagination of Africans.
The US Secretary of State has revealed the peculiar reason for his trip to Kenya
Tillerson has announced a $533 million aid package to fight famine in East Africa
Most analysts have criticised the Trump administration for the lack of a clear agenda for its partnership with Africa and see the Tillerson trip as a placatory move by him after his controversial comments about certain African countries.
At a speech at the George Mason University before his departure, Secretary Tillerson revealed the real reasons behind his choice of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Nigeria and Chad.
Well, it’s – obviously, I wished I had two or three weeks, because there are many African nations that are important to us that I think a visit would be beneficial to the relationship. But we picked these five. We’re going to Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the home of the African Union; that’s where it is located, their headquarters. Ethiopia also a very longstanding, important partner with the U.S. We have a relationship with Ethiopia that spans more than a century now.
Then we’re going to stop in on Djibouti, the Horn of Africa. Djibouti is that country that sticks out right into the narrow straits between Yemen, leading into the Red Sea up to the Suez Canal, a very critical trading route for the world’s economy and a critical partner in securing that trading route.
Then we’re going to Kenya, a large, thriving country. It’s really where PEPFAR has seen its greatest success, and it’s also been an incubator for how we expanded PEPFAR over the years. So we have a longstanding partnership with Kenya.
Then we’re going to Chad – N’Djamena, Chad – because Chad contributes the largest fighting force to the G5 Sahel and they have been crucial to our fight against terrorism in the Sahel and the success of what they’re doing.
And then finally to Nigeria, the most populous nation on the African continent. Tremendous natural resources and tremendous capabilities to succeed as a nation. They’re still on their journey to succeed, and they are going to be critical to not just the relationship the U.S. has with Africa, but Nigeria is going to be critical to how Africa succeeds as a continent. And I spoke about the need to integrate African economies more, trade more with the neighbors. I think too often the U.S. in its approach – it’s all been about trading across the transatlantic corridor. We really need to promote African intercontinental trade. That’s actually going to open more opportunities for American investment and participation. So Nigeria, big country, very important country to the future of the continent.
And there – I’d love – there are others I’d love to go to. I’ve traveled to North Africa, as I’m sure you’d be aware, but a lot of important countries in East Africa, South Africa, clearly, so obviously this won’t be my last trip. I’ll have to go back.
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