ACCRA, March 27 (AP) — U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday, in a show of support for the West African leader who is facing a Discontent over inflation and new concerns about regional security.
Harris has just begun a week-long tour of the continent that will also see her travel to Tanzania and Zambia as part of a concerted effort to expand U.S. influence at a time when China and Russia have deep-seated interests in Africa.
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Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Akufo-Addo oversaw one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
However, prices of food and other essentials have been soaring and the country is facing a debt crisis as it struggles to pay down debt.
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Also, there has been an increase in sporadic fighting in northern Ghana, which borders the more volatile country of Burkina Faso and the Sahel region, where local affiliates of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group have been operating.
“Ghana is going through a very difficult time,” said Ramayade, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.
The United States has sent troops to train troops from Ghana and other countries, hoping to bolster their defenses.
Other countries, however, have turned to the Russian mercenary known as Wagner, which has been on the front lines of the war in Ukraine but also has a presence in Africa.
Wagner began operations in Mali, expelling French troops stationed there, and there were fears it would also deploy to Burkina Faso, where France also ended its military presence.
Ghana recently accused Burkina Faso’s leader, who came to power in a coup last year, of turning to Wagner for help, which Akufo-Addo said would be “disturbing”.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently visited Niger, which borders Mali and Burkina Faso, to announce more aid to the region.
“We’ve seen countries find themselves weaker, poorer, less secure, less independent because of their association with Wagner,” he said.
While China’s influence in Africa has been a major focus of U.S. foreign policy, Russia’s own attempted inroads have also spooked Washington. Some countries have longstanding ties dating back to the Soviet era.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made repeated trips to the continent to try to show that the West has failed to isolate Ukraine over Moscow’s invasion.
“The Russians continue to lead the way in Africa and the US continues to catch up,” said Samuel Ramani, an associate research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a defense and security think tank in London.
He added: “In the long run, it’s unclear how Russia will actually expand its influence. But in the short term, they’re creating goodwill for themselves.”
Mucahid Durmaz, senior analyst at global risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft, said Moscow’s overall investment in Africa was “very limited” compared with Washington’s, but added that it had been able to leverage Anti-Western sentiment in certain parts of the mainland.
“The war in Ukraine has raised Africa’s importance in international politics and intensified the geopolitical wrangling between global powers for the support of their governments and countries,” he said.
U.S. officials have avoided framing their approach in terms of global competition, which could quickly offend Africans who fear being caught in the middle.
“They are wary of doing collateral damage to geopolitical competition by repeating the mistakes of the Cold War era,” Durmaz said. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)