Kamala Harris has vowed to “double up” efforts to bring billions of dollars in US investment to Africa – announcing a $1 billion program on the continent aimed at empowering African women entrepreneurs.
The vice president kicked off her African tour on Sunday in Ghana before heading to Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam, where she is scheduled to hold talks with President Samia Solo Hassan later on Thursday.
Her office announced plans to improve trade and other aspects of the bilateral relationship, including a memorandum of understanding between the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the government of Tanzania.
While in Accra, she announced a major push to invest in the women’s business. About $500 million will provide African women with more access to technology, and other new funds will provide a large portion specifically to support women entrepreneurs.
The United States will join the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch a new fund to help bridge the so-called digital gender divide.
Kamala Harris has vowed to “double up” efforts to bring billions of dollars in US investment to Africa as she announced a billion-dollar program on the continent aimed at empowering African women entrepreneurs.
This comes after it announced that the United States would provide $100 million over 10 years to invest in security risks on the continent – to fend off threats posed by terrorist and extremist groups.
However, Western investors have often been slow to provide assistance, warning of corruption and poor infrastructure in many countries in Africa.
The memorandum between the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the government of Tanzania will facilitate up to $500 million in U.S. export financing to Tanzania to support exports of goods and services in sectors including infrastructure, transportation, digital technology, climate, energy security, and power generation.
Harris’s office also highlighted US support for LifeZone Metals’ plan to open a new processing plant in Tanzania.
The facility will use low-emissions technology to process nickel and other metals mined in the east African country, Harris’ office said, with the goal of beginning deliveries of battery-grade nickel to the United States starting in 2026.
She is due to remain in Tanzania until Friday, when she departs for Zambia, the last leg of her tour.
Tanzania is making fragile progress toward restoring its reputation as a more inclusive government.
Samia Sulu Hassan, Tanzania’s first female president, rescinded some of the country’s most repressive policies, such as banning opposition rallies, even though she came to power as a member of the ruling party.
It ended the term of President John Magufuli, who died in office and gained a reputation for quashing dissent, arresting critics and forcing them into exile. Hard-liners were uncomfortable with some of Hassan’s changes, which could cost him in the next election two years from now.
Harris arrived in Tanzania late Wednesday after spending three nights in Ghana. As in her first stop, she was greeted with music and dance as she walked the red carpet transferred to Air Force 2. Some of the welcome party wore T-shirts with Harris’ face.
Harris is scheduled to spend two nights in Tanzania, then cap off her week-long trip with a stopover in Zambia, another country striving to boost its democracy. She plans to return to Washington on Sunday.
Eyadat Hassan, director of the Center for Democracy and Development in Abuja, Nigeria, said Harris’ visit could help galvanize enthusiasm at a time of fears of a slide into authoritarianism in Africa and around the world.
“A lot of people will want the United States to talk about the issue of democracy, which they feel is starting to decline and is not what it used to be,” she said. “There is more to making sure that democracy is here to stay.”
Like Tanzania, Zambia has made varying strides towards democracy since its independence. However, there was an outburst of hope after the country elected Hakinde Hichilema, a former opposition leader who has faced accusations of treason.
Zambia has since decriminalized defamation of the president, a law used to suppress dissent. She is also serving as co-host of President Joe Biden’s second Democracy Summit this week.
However, Hichilema warned this week that economic progress is essential to maintaining open societies.
“You can’t eat democracy,” he wrote in The Washington Post. “Human rights may preserve the soul, but not the body.”