China has invested heavily in Africa in recent decades, including in infrastructure and resource development, while Russian influence has also grown, including through the deployment of troops from Russia's private military contractor Wagner group to aid governments in several countries.
"On this trip I intend to do work that is focused on increasing investments here on the continent and facilitating economic growth and opportunity," Harris said shortly after touching down in Ghana, the first destination in a trip that will include visits to Tanzania and Zambia.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has sought to strengthen ties with Africa, in part to offer an alternative to rival powers.
In December, ahead of a US-Africa summit, the US committed $55bn to the continent over the next three years. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $150m in new humanitarian aid for Africa's Sahel region during a visit to Niger this month.
Biden is yet to visit Africa as president.
On this trip, Harris will also discuss China's engagement in technology and economic issues in Africa that concern the United States, as well as China's involvement in debt restructuring, senior US officials said last week.
Harris will meet Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo this week and will visit a former slave castle from which slaves were sent to America during the slave trade era.
Harris will be in Ghana from 26 March to 29 March, then in Tanzania from 29 March to 31 March. Her final stop is Zambia, on 31 March and 1 April. She will meet with the three countries' presidents and plans to announce public- and private-sector investments.
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