US VP Kamala Harris arrives in Ghana on three-nation African tour
US Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Ghana on Sunday at the start of a three-nation African tour, as Washington looks to strengthen diplomatic ties on the continent.
The trip to Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia until April 2 comes after a December summit hosted by President Joe Biden in Washington with US leaders and counterparts from Africa, a continent where China and Russia are enjoying rising influence.
Harris, in company of her husband Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, was received in Ghana’s capital Accra by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and senior government officials.
Accompanied by drumming and dancing, school children welcomed the 49th US vice president with miniature flags of Ghana at the Kotoka International Airport.
In brief remarks, Harris said her visit gives her the opportunity to deepen the relationship between the United States and African partners.
“We are looking forward to this trip as a further statement of the long and enduring and very important relationship and friendship between the people of the United States and those who live on the continent of Africa,” Harris said.
“I am very excited about the future of Africa. I am very excited about the impact of the future of Africa on the rest of the world including the United States of America,” she said.
She said the visit would be addressing such issues as the climate crisis, increasing food security, and growing investment on the continent.
Harris is expected to meet entrepreneurs, students, women and farmers while in Ghana and will also visit the historic Cape Coast Castle where slaves were kept 400 years ago.
She would hold bilateral talks with President Nana Akufo-Addo and meet civil society representatives.
On Wednesday she will depart Accra for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in continuation of her African tour.
Ghana is facing an economic crisis with inflation at more than 50 percent and its cedi currency down sharply, hit by the adverse effects of the global pandemic and Ukraine crisis.
Ghana has agreed on a $3 billion credit deal with the IMF to tackle its economic crisis. It is also in talks with China on its problems.
The December summit in Washington was the first of its kind since African leaders came in 2014 to see Barack Obama.
Africa has become more heated as a diplomatic battleground following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and Russian security involvements in several countries on the continent.
In September, Biden called for an African permanent seat on the UN Security Council, backed a permanent African Union role in the Group of 20 economies and said he was planning a visit — the first by a US president since 2015 — to sub-Saharan Africa.
His wife, Jill Biden, reiterated the commitment to helping African nations get a louder voice at the UN and other international bodies on a trip to Namibia and Kenya in February.