United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is visiting Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia on his maiden African trip. He is also the first U.S. Cabinet official to visit in more than 18 months.
He left Senegal Sunday to go to Angola and after that will travel to Ethiopia as the Trump administration tries to counter the growing interest of China, Russia and other global powers in Africa and its booming young population of more than 1.2 billion.
In Angola, an oil-rich country whose people remain impoverished, Pompeo will meet with President Joao Lourenco, who is making strides against corruption, including actions against close relatives of the former leader.
Then Pompeo heads to Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation with more than 100 million people and the headquarters of the African Union.
Ethiopia, a key U.S. security ally in the Horn of Africa, has undergone dramatic political reforms since Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. The loosening of repressive measures has been exploited by some with long-held grievances, leading to sometimes violent ethnic tensions that threaten a national election later this year.
Hope for a dam deal in Ethiopia
Pompeo was expected to arrive late Monday in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country and a key U.S. security ally in the Horn of Africa region. Its Nobel Peace Prize-winning Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is under pressure to uphold his dramatic political reforms amid rising ethnic tensions ahead of a major election in August.
Abiy’s government is also under pressure from the U.S. to reach an agreement with Egypt on the massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project that Ethiopia says is crucial to pull its people out of poverty. Egypt, however, worries that the dam will limit its access to the Nile River waters.
The countries, along with Sudan, are expected to come to a final agreement late this month in Washington.