Saturday, 15 December, 2018

USA anxious about Nigeria, other African countries' debt overhang

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Melinda Barton | 07 March, 2018, 11:45

Tillerson is due to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya between today and March 13. Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti are also involved in the struggle against al-Shabaab, the terrorist organization centered in Somalia, where the USA military also has assumed a limited support role.

On Thursday, a statement by Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the State Department, revealed that Tillerson will travel to Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria on his first trip to Africa as a top US diplomat.

It falls to Tillerson to mend the damage as he travels to the continent on Tuesday, becoming the most senior USA official to set foot there since Trump took office more than a year ago.

"But more important is the potential for high rates of unemployment if we don't position ourselves now to look at how we can develop Africa and be a part of that development and really the opportunity".

Meanwhile, had reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission said it will partner with the United Nations to ensure effective operations during the 2019 general election.

And as he suggested in a speech Tuesday at George Mason University before jumping on a plane, Mr. Tillerson will warn his African hosts about China's development model, which to America's way of thinking is stripping Africa of its natural wealth - particularly precious metals - and indebting countries to risky levels while giving little back. Sputnik spoke with John Stremlau, Professor of International Relations at Witwatersrand University In Cape Town South Africa for further analysis. Djibouti is the site of the only US base in Africa. Secretary Tillerson's itinerary does not include what is in many ways the most successful African state, South Africa. "How can the African states and populations continue to grow and develop?"

Tillerson, in his speech, warned that China's approach to development in Africa "encourages dependency" that undermines its sovereignty and risks its stability.

It said, however, that Ethiopia remained a challenge for the USA and a focus for it as well and an opportunity.

The Chinese model, he said, is typified by "predatory loan practices and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undermine their independence" while "creating few if any jobs in most countries".

Tillerson will also visit Kenya, where the political system is in turmoil over disputes related to President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election. Another $110 million was destined for Ethiopia to help amid a drought.

The former Exxon Mobil CEO's itinerary reflects big changes and big challenges underway across the continent. Nigeria and Chad are deeply involved in the struggle against the Islamist, anti-western Boko Haram, which involves limited US military training and equipment sales.