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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Harris out to reframe US views on Africa, foster partnership

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ACCRA, Ghana — If U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has a favourite quantity on her journey to Africa, it is undoubtedly 19. That is the median age on this continent, and he or she repeats the very fact at each alternative.

For Harris, it isn’t a chunk of trivia however the driving pressure behind the USA’ reenergized outreach to Africa. Washington is racing to construct partnerships on the oldest inhabited continent with the youngest inhabitants, a take a look at that might reshape the financial system right here and, by extension, the remainder of the world.

As a part of that effort, Harris plans to unveil greater than $1 billion in private and non-private funding for ladies’s financial empowerment on Wednesday, in keeping with her workplace. The cash is predicted to come back from a mixture of nonprofit foundations, personal corporations and the federal authorities, and it is meant to develop entry to digital companies, present job coaching and help entrepreneurs.

The American vp is scheduled to make the announcement throughout a gathering with six Ghanaian feminine entrepreneurs, her closing occasion in Ghana earlier than persevering with her weeklong tour in Tanzania and Zambia.

Harris is essentially the most high-profile member of President Joe Biden’s administration to go to Africa this yr because the U.S. steps up its outreach amid world rivalry over the continent. She’s paid explicit consideration to financial growth and younger individuals throughout her time in Ghana.

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Harris has visited a skate park and recording studio, launched a Spotify playlist of African musicians, spoken to a crowd of hundreds of younger individuals, and invited a coterie of celebrities, civil rights leaders and businesspeople to hitch her at a banquet in her honor.

It is a rigorously calibrated marketing campaign to reframe how Individuals view alternatives in Africa. New investments couldn’t solely profit U.S. companies but in addition alleviate one of the crucial urgent challenges right here.

“If we don’t discover jobs — as a result of that’s what it’s about — for this rising younger inhabitants, it will likely be harmful for the political stability on the continent,” stated Rama Yade, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Heart. “As a result of they’ll assault the establishments in the event that they don’t have the means for dwelling.”

The need for funding was on full show Monday night on the presidential palace often known as the Jubilee Home, the place Washington officers ditched their common staid apparel for vibrant attire and sharp tuxedos for the state banquet. Hollywood stars Spike Lee, Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson had been among the many attendees.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo entered with Harris, he in a darkish, double-breasted swimsuit and he or she in a white robe and cape adorned with a purple flower on the appropriate shoulder.

Though the ambiance was festive, the message was all enterprise. A big display on the far finish of the banquet tent confirmed a computer-generated animation of future growth in Accra, a imaginative and prescient of a contemporary African metropolis.

“We’re inspired by the truth that extra American corporations than ever want to spend money on Ghana,” Akufo-Addo stated. “And we’ll proceed to create and preserve the conducive funding ambiance that won’t solely assure the security of their investments, however good returns on these investments as properly.”

By diversifying the nation’s financial system past exporting pure assets, Akufo-Addo stated, he envisioned “a Ghana past assist.”

Ghana is being squeezed by skyrocketing inflation and a bulging debt burden, and Akufo-Addo famous the influence of “pernicious developments” just like the conflict in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We wish to work collectively to alter the African narrative, which has been characterised largely by a focus on illness, starvation, poverty and unlawful mass migration,” he stated. “Collectively, we should assist make Africa the place for funding, progress and prosperity.”

It is a change that Harris is keen to assist foster.

“Whereas we face actual challenges, I go searching tonight and I’m actually extra optimistic than ever,” Harris stated in her personal toast. “And I do know that by working collectively, the USA and Ghana, alongside the diaspora and the individuals of this stunning continent, will share and share our future for the higher.”

Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, joined the hassle as properly. He went to a ladies’ basketball clinic and spoke with college students at a city corridor dialogue with the forged of the native tv sequence “You Solely Stay As soon as,” which addresses public well being points and different challenges dealing with Ghanaian youth.

Emhoff stated the message was about “having confidence in your self to know that you are able to do no matter you wish to do on this world.”

However that hope for the longer term is not essentially widespread.

Adwoa Brentuo, who graduated 4 years in the past with a level in data science, is one in all many who concern their training was no assist.

“I’ve now given up about getting a job as a result of they’re nonexistent,” she stated. “I’ve additionally realized that writing functions have change into a waste of time.”

Ghana’s minister of youth and sports activities, Mustapha Yussif, estimated that just one out of 10 school graduates will get a job.

“The remainder will be unable to get any employment for a very long time,” Yussif stated.

It is an issue throughout the continent. The African Growth Financial institution estimates that there are on common about 11 million individuals getting into the job market whereas on the identical time solely about 3 million jobs are created.

Harris’ stops in Ghana included an Accra youth heart that encompasses a skate park and recording studio. Younger skaters glided backwards and forwards as she arrived, their boards sometimes clattering towards the pavement.

Inside, a employees member stated that youngsters can be taught subjects like accounting along with enjoying music.

“We’re all studying from scratch,” the employees member informed Harris. “Allow us to hope for the following era in right here.”

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