Tillerson Stops in Ethiopia on First Official Visit to Africa

Nigeria's 2019 general elections our major priority - USA

According to the U.S. State Department, Secretary Tillerson will meet with President Uhuru Kenyatta and other government officials in talks set to focus on continued support for the democratic process in Kenya, refugee issues, and press freedom.

It falls to Tillerson to mend the damage as he travels to the continent on Tuesday (March 6), becoming the most senior USA official to set foot there since Trump took office more than a year ago.

The United States has donated almost $3bn humanitarian assistance to African countries facing one form of crisis or the other since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2017 and has also encouraged additional contributions to meet growing needs.

A peaceful and democratic transition is what is the most important, the USA government said.

Tillerson also lauded the progress Africa, as a continent, has made with democracy.

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Trump hasn't announced a signature initiative to help the continent, such as the PEPFAR program for HIV/AIDS that George W. Bush started, and many of his sweeping budget cuts affect overseas programs that disproportionately help Africa.

In a speech Tuesday outlining the Trump administration's Africa policy, Tillerson said the United States is "eager" to lower barriers to trade and investment in Africa, whose largest trading partner by far is China.

In Djibouti, China's development of its first overseas military base just a few miles away has been cause for concern for the USA, illustrating the military side of a broader competition between the US and China playing out across the continent. He said its investment had the potential to improve Africa's infrastructure, but added that its approach had led to mounting debt while creating few jobs.

Terror attacks in Africa have claimed more than 1,500 lives in each of the past three years, Mr Tillerson said. Another $110 million was destined for Ethiopia to help amid a drought. "The substance of what he conveys may be more diverse, but given the signals coming out of the White House and administration to date, I imagine that security is top of the order, along with cementing relationships with partners that the U.S. considers important security players".

Of the newly announced funds, more than $128 million is for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region.

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