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Empowerment of women, digital inclusion, good governance will dominate US-Africa policy, says Kamala Harris

Vice-President Kamala Harris said that these three areas are vital avenues where Africa and the United States must make progress

The vice-president of the United States, Kamala Harris, has declared that the policy of the US towards Africa will largely be driven by the concepts of “women empowerment”, “digital innovation and inclusion” as well as the promotion of “democracy and good governance”.

In remarks at the Black Star Gate of Independence Square in Accra today Tuesday 28 March 2023, Vice-President Kamala Harris focused on innovation as the overarching area of interest, expressing optimism about the future of Africa and, by extension, the world, because of the ingenuity, and creativity that is prevalent across the African continent, especially in her youthful population.

The vice-president outlined the areas that are the particular focus for her trip and where she believes Africa and the United States must make progress to unlock even more innovation.

Women’s empowerment  

On the empowerment of women, the Vice-President Harris argued that women around the world must be able to full participate in economic, political, and social life, and that they must be able to participate equally, including in leadership roles.

Vice-President Kamala Harris greets an enthusiastic audience of young Ghanaians, including schoolchildren, at Black Star Gate, Black Star Square (28 March 2023)

“Women are entrepreneurs yet have limited access to capital and markets. They are peacemakers and bridge builders yet continue to be underrepresented at the tables where decisions are being made.

“And there are many factors that impact a woman’s ability to survive and thrive. One of those is economic empowerment. And when we lift up the economic status of a woman, let’s be clear, we lift up the economic status of her children, her family, her community. The entire economy benefits,” Vice-President Kamala Harris said.

“So, know that the United States of America will work alongside our partners each and every day to close gender gaps here and around the world.

And, ultimately, our belief is that the empowerment of women is rooted in the concept of freedom. Not just freedom from violence or want, but freedom to create one’s own future, a freedom we desire for all people,” she said.

Digital inclusion

Vice-President Harris said that digital services are essential to 21st-century economies, and while there are places on the continent of Africa that led the world in digital solutions, other parts of the continent lag behind.

Vice-President Kamala Harris at Black Star Gate, Black Star Square (28 March 2023)

She declared that there is the need to expand access to the internet and ensure African people fully benefit from connectivity, whether that is access to education, access to information, or access to financial services.

“Whether you are a student relying on virtual courses, a farmer relying on an app for an early warning about extreme weather, or a small-business owner looking to sell goods online, digital services are essential to 21st-century economies. Expanding access to the Internet drives growth and creates opportunity for innovation.

“And once people are online, they have greater access then to education, greater access to information, and greater access to financial services – which is why the United States will double down on our effort to mobilise billions of dollars in public and private capital from the United States, the continent of Africa, and around the world, in order to expand internet access for the benefit of all people here on the continent,” Kamala Harris said.

“To this end, the partnership between the public and private sectors is essential. Partnerships that combine the experience and expertise of the private sector with the reach and capacity that only governments can provide.

“Together, we can unleash growth and opportunity that far exceeds what either the public or private sector can achieve on its own. And the United States is committed to build these types of partnerships to increase digital inclusion on the continent,” she said.

Good governance  

On good governance and democracy, the vice-president argued that there is the need for the United States and its African partners to support and invest in good governance and democracy.

Vice-President Harris declared that good governance “delivers predictability, stability, and rule of law, which is what businesses need to invest and what benefits all of society”, making “good governance a key attribute of a good democracy”.

Vice-President Kamala Harris speech at Black Star Gate, Black Star Square (28 March 2023)/aerial view of site

“Recent polling tells us the vast majority of Africans support democracy over other forms of government, which reflects our shared desire for freedom and opportunity, transparency, and accountability for free and fair elections, the orderly transition of power, and the protection of fundamental human rights.

“Indeed, this is a priority for the American people, and it is a global priority.  The United States will continue to work alongside democratic governments and in support of democratic aspirations of the people of this continent,” the vice-president said.

Wilberforce Asare

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