Kamala Harris lands in Zambia as she winds up Africa tour

U.S Vice President Kamala Harris

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris addresses a news conference following her meetings with Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 30, 2023.

Photo credit: Courtesy | AFP

In Lusaka, Zambia

US Vice President Kamala Harris has landed in Lusaka, Washington DC’s co-host of the just concluded second Summit on Democracy, as she embarks on the last leg of her week-long Africa tour.

Harris landed at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport a few minutes after 1300 hours CAT accompanied by US Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen among other senior members of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Zambia is their last stop after visiting Ghana and Tanzania as Washington DC seeks to counter the growing political, military and economic influence of arch-rivals Moscow and Beijing.

According to State House, Lusaka, Harris is expected to hold bilateral talks with her host President Hakainde Hichilema before inking far-reaching bilateral agreements on climate resilience and food security.

Zambia Foreign Affairs Minister Stanley Kakubo says other issues to be discussed include access to the digital economy, economic empowerment of women and strengthening business investment through innovation and youth entrepreneurship.

Zambia, like Ghana and Kenya, is heaving under an near-impossible debt burden, mainly from China, and Zambian officials, business leaders and ordinary citizens who spoke to Nation.Africa on Friday said they welcome Washington's plan to intervene in their situation, just like the US did in Accra.

“The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Technical Assistance (OTA) will deploy a full-time resident adviser in 2023, to Accra to assist the Ministry of Finance in developing and executing medium- to long term reforms needed to improve debt sustainability and support a competitive, dynamic government debt market,” reads a White House fact sheet on Harris’ Africa trip.

“The project will complement and build on the Government of Ghana’s debt restructuring efforts. This project is part of OTA’s ongoing engagement to strengthen public financial management and financial sector oversight across sub-Saharan Africa”.

Other African states set to benefit from the initiative covering revenue policy and administration; budget and financial accountability; government debt issuance and infrastructure financing; banking and financial services; and economic crimes in 2023 are Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Tanzania and The Gambia.

For Harris, the Zambia tour is a walk down memory lane, quite literally, as she reconnects with her childhood memories in the southern African country.

At age five, she and her baby sister Maya crawled and played in the then fiery-red, copper-rich soils of Lusaka, in the late 1960s.

She stayed with her maternal grandfather, P. V Gopalan, a civil servant who had been dispatched by the Indian government to help Zambia manage an influx of refugees from Southern Rhodesia — current day Zimbabwe — which had just declared independence from Britain.