Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

United States warns Africa over Chinese loans

United States warns Africa over Chinese loans

Trump has yet to name an assistant USA secretary of state for Africa or an ambassador to South Africa and other African nations.

It didn't take long for President Donald Trump's "shithole" comment about African nations to come up in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's first visit to the continent as top US diplomat.

Tillerson is not new to Africa, and his Nairobi visit poignantly points at a deliberate shift from the chest thumping America First bravado that propelled Trump into office to the possibility of a more logical partnership between Washington and the capitals of the continent.

Lavrov's tour also appears to have an interest in re-establishing former Soviet-era ties with African states - in particular with Ethiopia, with which Russian Federation has long-standing diplomatic relations dating back to the 19th century.

He will then visit Kenya, a key USA ally in the fight against al Shabaab Islamist militants in Somalia, before traveling to Chad and Nigeria, which are also battling to contain Islamist insurgents.

Top on the agenda of Tillerson is to try and tame China's influence in Africa, with China being the biggest development partner so far with the continent.

On Thursday, he arrived in Addis Ababa.

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Earlier this week, Tillerson criticized "China's approach" to Africa which he said encouraged dependency through "opaque contracts" and "predatory loan practices". Ethiopia is a prime case study: the total US direct investment in the country is around $567 million, while Chinese investments amount to about $15 billion, according to the State Department. "I want to add I am satisfied with the discussions I had with the secretary of state, notably the engagement of the United States to support Africa in the battle against terrorism".

Though the deliverables of this trip, as well as the launch of any new initiatives, remain unclear, the set of countries that Tillerson is visiting indicates that security is indeed the primary focus.

North Korea has more than a dozen embassies on the continent.

Tilerson is expected to visit Chad, Djibouti and Nigeria in the coming days during his visit that ends next on March 13.

African Union chief Moussa Faki Mahamat said he's not mad at Donald Trump anymore. The Trump administration has said that Pyongyang earns hard currency from arms deals with African government and the trafficking of wildlife parts from Africa. AFRICOM had already begun engaging China, particularly in Djibouti, where the two countries had military bases just a few kilometres apart. The reporter said the comment, which Trump has denied, "is something that Africa's still digesting".

Chris Alden, China expert at the London School of Economics and the SA Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg, said, 'I don't think I have heard such a sympathetic tone to discussing China's role in Africa out of USA officialdom.' Though this was of course qualified by the criticism of China for resource exploitation and saddling Africa with debts - and Waldhauser's security concerns about Djibouti.

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Lucas also praised the actor and said, " Mark Hamill is a character that can't be written". "And it's cold. Abrams, who is returning to helm Episode IX after directing The Force Awakens .

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