US Vice-President Kamala Harris was greeted by cheering schoolchildren, dancers and drummers as she arrived in Ghana Sunday afternoon to begin her nine-day trip to Africa.
Dr Bawumia received Harris at KIA
Amidst drumming and dancing, she was welcomed by Vice-president Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and other government officials.
Children wave Ghana-USA flags
The children cheered and waved Ghanaian and American flags as Harris stepped off her plane.
She smiled broadly and placed a hand on her chest as she passed by the dancers.
Harris greets cheering crowd
Harris could not hide her excitement as she greeted the teeming crowd at the Kotoka International Airport who were there to welcome her.
She will spend 3 days in Ghana
She will spend three days in Ghana out of the weeklong visit to Africa which is intended to deepen U.S. relationships amid global competition over the continent’s future.
She will also visit Tanzania and Zambia
After Ghana, she plans to visit Tanzania and Zambia and return to Washington on April 2.
Highest-profile Biden official to visit Africa
Harris is the highest-profile member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit Africa this year.
Trip is to counter China’s influence in Africa
The expanded outreach is intended to counter China’s influence, which has become entrenched in recent years through infrastructure initiatives, lending money and expanding telecommunications networks.
In a brief address shortly after arrival, the US Vice-President said, she was looking forward to deepening further the “very important relationship and friendship between the people of the United States and those who live on the continent of Africa.
Excited about the future of Africa
“I’m very excited about the future of Africa. I’m very excited about the impact of the future of Africa on the rest of the world, including the United States of America,” she stressed.
Promoting economic growth and food security
Harris emphasized on promoting economic growth and food security and welcomed the chance to ”witness firsthand the extraordinary innovation and creativity that is occurring on this continent.”
Innovation and possibilities
The US vice-president said, “When I look at what is happening on this continent and the fact that the median age is 19 years old and what that tells us about the growth of opportunity, of innovation and of possibilities, I see in all of that great opportunity, not only for the people of this continent but the people of the world.”
A lot of potentials
According to her, there is a lot of potentials “especially when we understand that by the year 2050, we believe one in four people on earth will be on the continent of Africa.”
Harris said the partnership between the African continent, its people and the people of the United States “reinforces the work that we will continue to do together. Be that on addressing the climate crisis, to supply chains to our work together on international rules and norms.”
Particularly, she said on this trip she intends to do “work that is focused on increasing investments here on the continent and facilitating economic growth and opportunity specifically in the areas of economic empowerment of women and girls. Empowerment of youth. Entrepreneurship, digital inclusion, and supporting the work that must be done to increase food security, including adaptation to the effects of the climate crisis.”
Groups she plans to meet
She announced plans to meet with entrepreneurs and artists and students and farmers to witness firsthand the extraordinary innovation and creativity that is occurring on this continent and inspiring the world.
Hold talks with President Nana Akufo-Addo today
Economic and security challenges will likely be discussed on Monday when Harris meets with President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Harris and Akufo-Addo met twice already
The two leaders have met twice before, both times in Washington.
First meeting in September 2021
During their first meeting, in September 2021, Akufo-Addo said “our big challenge — and it is a challenge of all those who want to develop democratic institutions on our continent — is to ensure and reassure our people that democratic institutions can be a vehicle for the resolution of their big problem — that is economic development as the means to eradicate poverty on the continent.”
Harris’ events in Ghana will focus on young people
Most of Harris’ events in Ghana will focus on young people. Africa’s population has a median age of 19.
Visit to recording studio for local artists
On Monday, she plans to visit a skate park and co-working space that has a recording studio for local artists.
Harris’ husband to actors, attend girls basketball clinic
Her husband, Doug Emhoff, who is accompanying her on the trip, will hold a town hall meeting with actors from a local television show and attend a girls basketball clinic.
State banquet this evening
In the evening, they will attend a state banquet with the Ghanaian president and first lady.
Harris to deliver speech and visit Cape Coast Castle tomorrow
On Tuesday, Harris will give a speech and visit Cape Coast Castle, where enslaved Africans were once loaded on ships bound for America.
Meeting with women entrepreneurs a
Before leaving for Tanzania on Wednesday, Harris will meet with women entrepreneurs and Emhoff will tour a chocolate company that was founded by two sisters.
The name of the company, ’57 Chocolate, is a reference to when Ghana became independent.
During this meeting, Harris is expected to announce a “series of continent-wide, public and private sector investments to help close the digital gender divide and to empower women economically more broadly”.
Her visit is in line with the Biden Administration’s outreach to African countries.
The Vice-President’s trip is the latest show of support from the Administration amid President Joe Biden’s push to engage closer with the African continent.
The United States and Ghana have a close and enduring friendship rooted in our mutual commitment to freedom and democratic values.
While official bilateral relationship dates back to Ghana’s independence in 1957, unofficial, personal ties go back even further.
Thousands of Ghanaians have been educated in the United States.
Through the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and other exchange programmes, thousands more talented Ghanaians have developed their leadership skills and gotten to know America.
Ghana attracts hundreds of American students each year seeking to experience the rich history and culture of West Africa.
These types of cross-cultural exchanges have created long-lasting networks across the United States and Africa.
Ghana’s reputation as a democratic leader in Africa
U.S.-Ghana ties are close, partly rooted in Ghana’s reputation as a democratic leader in Africa and a pillar of regional stability.
Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama visited Ghana
Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama each visited Ghana during their tenures.
Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Ghana
In 2019, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to the country that, among other purposes, commemorated the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to what is now the United States.
Sizable Ghanaian diaspora in US
People-to-people and cultural ties are robust. There is a sizable Ghanaian diaspora in the United States—with larger communities in the New York City, Washington, DC, and Atlanta metropolitan areas—and several thousand U.S. citizens reside in Ghana.
The Akufo-Addo administration has expanded efforts to attract tourism and migration to Ghana by Black Americans, partly premised on the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade
Ghana is a hub for U.S. engagement in the wider sub-region
Ghana is a hub for U.S. engagement in the wider sub-region: the country hosts the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) West Africa regional mission, one of four U.S. Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centers in Africa, and one of two State Department International Law Enforcement Academies on the continent.
Bilateral relations also include the U.S.-Ghana Business Forum, a regular exchange between U.S. and Ghanaian officials and business leaders focused on deepening commercial engagement.
Civil nuclear cooperation agreement
The two countries signed an agreement on civil nuclear cooperation in 2021, and in late 2022, the United States, Ghana, and Japan announced a “strategic collaboration” to support Ghana’s nuclear power programme.
Top regional destination for U.S. foreign direct investment
Ghana is a minor U.S. trade and investment partner in global terms, but is a leading source and destination market for U.S. trade in Africa and a top regional destination for U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI).
U.S. imports from Ghana in 2021 were valued at $1.72 billion; mineral fuels accounted for nearly 80% of this total ($1.34 billion), with cocoa comprising much of the balance ($219 million).
U.S. exports to Ghana in 2021 totaled roughly $960 in value; motor vehicles and auto parts ($328 million), machinery ($108 million), meat and poultry ($93 million), and plastics ($85 million) were the leading U.S. export categories in 2021.
Duty-free trade benefits under AGOA
Ghana is eligible for duty-free trade benefits under the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA, P.L. 106-200, as amended).
Mineral fuels were the top category of U.S. AGOA imports from Ghana in 2021.
100 U.S. companies maintain operations in Ghana
According to the State Department, “roughly 100 U.S. companies maintain operations in Ghana,” including U.S. multinationals Coca Cola, Cargill, Newmont (a gold mining company), IBM, and PwC.
In 2021, ExxonMobil surrendered its 80% stake in a deep-water oil prospect after a 2.5- year period of exploration, exiting Ghana as part of the firm’s broader wind-down of operations in West Africa.
U.S. oil and gas operator Kosmos Energy remains in the country’s energy sector, alongside Italian major Eni, Tullow Oil (UK), Vitol (Switzerland), and Aker Energy (Norway).
In November 2022, Twitter inaugurated a headquarters in Accra—its first in Africa—but fired nearly all of its Ghana-based staff days later amid sweeping personnel changes following the company’s change in ownership.
The terminated employees have alleged a breach of Ghana’s labor laws.
U.S. assistance for Ghana is diverse
U.S. assistance for Ghana is diverse, encompassing a range of development, governance, and security programs.
State Department and USAID-administered assistance totaled $124.6 million in allocations of 2021 appropriations, with $132.4 million requested for 2023.
As with most other countries in Africa, health assistance is the largest category of U.S. assistance for Ghana, with programs to combat malaria (Ghana is a President’s Malaria Initiative focus country); promote maternal, child, and reproductive health; improve water supply and sanitation; enhance nutrition; strengthen health security; and expand access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care services.
Other U.S. development aid has sought to promote agricultural productivity (Ghana is one of 20 Feed the Future focus countries), improve basic education, support good governance, and strengthen civil society.
As noted above, DOL administers most U.S. aid to help eradicate child labor in the cocoa industry. As of December 2022, Ghana hosted 12 Peace Corps Volunteers supporting projects in agriculture, education, and health.
Security assistance for Ghana
State Department-administered security assistance for Ghana has included support for military professionalization, peacekeeping capacity-building, and law enforcement. Countering violent extremism is an emergent focus of U.S.-Ghana security cooperation.
Ghana key in Global Fragility Act
The Biden Administration has designated Ghana as a focus for engagement pursuant to the Global Fragility Act (GFA), as part of a “coastal West Africa” grouping that also includes Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Togo.
A 2021 coup in Guinea and U.S. concerns about undemocratic governance in Benin and Togo may elevate Ghana’s role within sub-regional engagement under the GFA.
As of late 2022, the Administration had released little information on planned priorities or funding levels of GFA programming in Ghana.
USAID Office of Transition Initiatives
An ongoing USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) programme also aims to build resilience to extremism in this coastal West Africa grouping; northern Ghana was selected as an initial focus area of OTI engagement, with projects to counter extremist messaging, aid dispute resolution, and address Fulani grievances.
Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership
The State Department has additionally identified Ghana (alongside some other coastal West African countries) as a potential recipient of funds via the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership and global counterterrorism programmes.
The State Department Office of Inspector General has recorded deficiencies in the past planning and administration of some U.S. security assistance for Ghana, which Congress might consider as it oversees growing GFA and counterterrorism aid for the country.
Ghana’s military has received Department of Defense-administered training and equipment and regularly participates in U.S. regional military exercises.
Ghana hosted Obangame Express, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM’s) premier maritime exercise in West Africa, in 2021; in 2023, it is due to host Flintlock, AFRICOM’s leading annual special operations exercise.
A State Partnership Programmed between Ghana and North Dakota’s National Guard, launched in 2004, has included military exercises and trainings on medical readiness and disaster preparedness and response.
Updated Status of Forces Agreement
In 2018, the United States and Ghana signed an updated Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which governs defense cooperation and the rights and privileges of U.S. troops stationed in partner countries.
Ratification of the SOFA proved controversial amid allegations by some Ghanaians that it would pave the way for a U.S. military base in Ghana, a claim the U.S. Embassy refuted support higher-value agricultural productivity, reduce costs related to agricultural commerce and transportation, and strengthen services in rural areas.
Power sector project
The second, a power sector project focused on improving electricity supply, closed in June 2022. Ghana’s second MCC compact was initially valued at $498 million.
But, the MCC announced in 2019 that it would withhold $190 million in funding due to the Ghanaian government’s termination of a concession between the state-owned electricity utility and a private firm—a precondition for the release of funds.
The compact continued at a reduced investment of $308 million, subsequently increased to $316 million to accommodate delays due to COVID-19.
The compact entailed activities to enhance electricity distribution through infrastructure investments and other support, promote energy efficiency, expand access to reliable power, and strengthen Ghana’s regulatory framework.