The Vice-President of the United States of America (USA), Kamala Harris, has said her country’s new partnership with Africa is hinged on what the US can do with Africa together and not what the US can do for Africa.
The partnership, she said, would be based on openness, inclusiveness, candour, shared interests and shared benefits.
Vice-President Harris was addressing a cross-section of Ghanaians, most of them youth, at the Black Star Gate, which is part of the Black Star Square which commemorates Ghana's independence from colonialism, in Accra yesterday.
She said the US would partner the government, the private sector and civil society and “we will together address the challenges we face and the incredible opportunities ahead”.
She pledged the commitment of her country to strengthen its partnership across Africa to be based on openness, inclusiveness, shared interest and mutual benefits.
"America will be guided not by what we can do for our African partners but what we can do with our African partners,” she declared, adding: “Together, we will address the challenges we face and the incredible opportunities ahead.”
Yesterday was the visiting US Vice-President’s second full day in the country as part of her week-long trip to Africa that will also take her to Tanzania and Zambia.
Vice-President Harris is the most high-profile member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit Africa as the US escalates its outreach to the continent.
She is accompanied by her husband, Douglas Craig Emhoff, known as the Second Gentleman of the US, high-level government officials, business people and diplomats.
Before the arrival and the address of Vice-President Harris, Shamima Muslim, a journalist and President of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), had addressed the gathering on youth leadership.
Touching on good governance, Ms Harris said the US would continue to work alongside democratic governments in support of the democratic aspirations of the people of Africa.
She said while democracy was always work in progress, including that of the USA, the US would always stand with those yearning for more freedom.
“Let us be clear that innovation thrives in a democracy. New ideas thrive where freedom thrives, so I believe living together, we can make it together in these areas,” she added.
“To create inclusive economic growth and to advance innovation, we must continue to support and invest in good governance and democracy. Good governance delivers stability and the rule of law, which are what businesses need to invest and benefit all of society,” she said.
Ms Harris, whose speech touched on three key areas — empowerment of women, digital inclusion and good governance and democracy — called for investment in African ingenuity and creativity.
That, she said, would unlock incredible economic growth and opportunities, not only for the people of the continent but also for America and people around the world.
“The Biden Administration and the American people stand ready to partner you to help accelerate the innovation and entrepreneurship that are already on the way. Let’s look, for example, at what is happening around the continent with technology, science, agriculture and clean energy, where innovation is solving local and global problems,” she said.
Making reference to some innovations made in Africa, she said the use of drones to deliver healthcare supplies such as blood and vaccines had gone a long way to reduce delivery times.
On gender empowerment, the US Vice-President said the US would work alongside its partners to close gender gaps on the continent and around the world.
She added that the belief of the US was that the empowerment of women would be rooted in the concept of freedom; not just freedom from violence and war but freedom to create their own future.
As the first US Vice-President with Black and South Asian lineage, Ms Harris sends a powerful message; therefore, thousands of people waited for hours at the Independence Gate at the Black Star Square for a chance to catch a glimpse of her.
The crowd that trooped to the Black Star Gate to see and listen to her made the event spectacular.
The people included students from the various tertiary institutions, people from the entertainment industry, Americans in Ghana and members of the public.
The event was not all about the keynote address. The national dance company, the Ghana Dance Ensemble, was present to perform various cultural displays to showcase the rich culture of
Ghana, while the crowd waved miniature flags of Ghana and the US as signs of happiness, cooperation and appreciation.
Background of venue
The choice of the venue for the programme was very significant.
The Black Star Gate is one of the features of the Black Star Square built by Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in 1961 to commemorate the nation’s independence and promote the values of national unity and self-reliance.
Inaugurated by Dr Nkrumah, it signifies triumph in the fight against colonialism, victory in the struggle for independence and sovereignity for the newly independent nation.