US Secretary of State Tillerson to jet in on Friday

Glen Norman
March 8, 2018

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has criticised China's economic engagement in Africa, ahead of his first official visit to the continent.

Secretary Tillerson would meet with officials in Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Chad and Djibouti to strengthen U.S. -Africa ties, they said.

Audio will be available later today.

Tillerson said the U.S. administration wants to step up ties with African nations, and announced humanitarian aid worth more than 533 million dollars for Ethiopia, Somalia and others.

"Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa's infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries", Tillerson explained.

The U.S., in contrast, wants to partner with African countries while promoting rule of law and democratic development, he said.

Tillerson heads to the continent with the Trump administration advocating cuts of more than a third in aid to African countries and programmes, along with deep reductions to global health initiatives.

The State Department said that about $184 million would go to help those affected by conflict in South Sudan and $110 million for those in Somalia. The day before Tillerson's departure, about 100 protesters gathered outside Tillerson's office in Washington chanting against the government.

China is aggressively working to expand its regional influence, which is something of concern to USA lawmakers.

He said China encouraged dependency, utilised corrupt deals and endangered its natural resources.

Tillerson will also visit Kenya, where the political system is in turmoil over disputes related to President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election.

"Since that day, thousands more have died at the hands of terrorists in Africa", the top USA diplomat told listeners at a university in the state of Virginia. But word emerged Tuesday that the administration would start approving elephant trophy importing on a "case-by-case" basis.

Mr Tillerson did not include Kenya, however, among the countries to benefit from a $533 million U.S. famine-prevention initiative he announced on Tuesday. Another $110 million was destined for Ethiopia to help amid a drought.

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