Praising Ghana as “a beacon of democracy,” Vice President Kamala Harris announced that the United States will give $100 million in aid to “help address the threats of violent extremism and instability” in the west African nation and four other countries on the continent.
Benin, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, and Togo are the other nations that will benefit from the assistance.
Harris arrived in Ghana as part of a three-nation, nine-day African tour at a time when the Biden administration is intent on countering China and Russia’s emerging influence there.
Ghana, which has 34 million citizens, is regarded as one of Africa’s most stable democracies. Unrest has entered the region in recent years. Coups have occurred in Burkina Faso to the north and Mali to the north of that.
Multiple nations across West Africa and the Sahel region have struggled to stop local offshoots of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State that have resulted in humanitarian disasters and contributed to military coups in Burkina Faso and Mali.
Earlier this month, the U.S. military launched its annual military training exercise focused on preparing armies to contain the threat.
Soldiers from 29 countries traveled to Ghana and Ivory Coast to participate in Flintlock, which trains personnel in counter-insurgency tactics.
Wagner, a Russian mercenary group, is operating in Africa. Mali tasked them to remove French-based troops stationed there. Ghana officials alleged that Burkina Faso’s leaders are seeking assistance from Wagner.
Akufo-Addo said that Ghana is concerned about Wagner because “it raises the very real possibility that our continent is going to become the playground for great power conflict.”
“We’re spending a lot of sleepless nights trying to make sure we’re protected here,” Akufo-Addo said.
Before announcing the $100 million aid package, Harris talked about her meeting with Akufo-Addo at the joint press conference.
“We have discussed a number of important topics, including the importance of concepts and priorities such as freedom and liberty, which are—to be sure—at the core of who we are as Americans and who Ghanaians are,” Harris said.
“Mr. President, you put it well during the State of the Nation a few weeks ago—and I’m going to quote you—when you said, ‘It is important we never forget that democracy is not a static achievement, but a promise that needs continuous nurturing.’
“I agree. I often, in fact, say that there is a duality when it comes to democracies, in that they are both an exhibition of strength and they are fragile,” she added. “We appreciate your leadership in response to recent democratic backsliding in West Africa and standing up for democratic principles around the world.”
After Ghana, Harris is scheduled to visit Tanzania and Zambia. She will return to Washington on April 2.
China has heavily invested in Africa in the last two decades.
In 2019, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced the first phase of a road construction project in Ghana that is part of a $2 billion infrastructure agreement that gives it access to Ghana’s bauxite reserves. Bauxite is an integral source of aluminum.
Before the start of last December’s three-day U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves admitted that China had surpassed the United States in direct investment in Africa.
“We took our eye off the ball, so to speak, and U.S. investors and companies are having to play catch up,” Graves said. “We’re bringing the best technologies and innovations, the highest standards. The U.S. helps to build capacity in our partner countries as opposed to exploiting those countries.”
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the Biden administration would spend $55 billion over the next three years on “a wide range of sectors to tackle the core challenges of our time.”
At the summit, Biden expressed his support to add the African Union as a permanent member of the Group of 20 nations.
The African Union includes the continent’s 54 nations. The G-20’s membership represents more than 80 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.
Harris emphasized that her visit, and U.S. aid and outreach, are not directly related to concerns about China and Russia’s growing presence in Africa.
“Yes, we are concerned with security,” Harris said. “We are concerned with what is happening on the globe as a whole. We are clear-eyed about that.
“But this trip is motivated by the importance of the direct relationship between the United States and Ghana, and as I travel the continent, with those countries as well,” she added.
When asked about China’s influence in Ghana, Akufo-Addo downplayed the significance.
“There may be an obsession in America about Chinese influence on the continent. But there’s no such obsession here,” Akufo-Addo said.
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