Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield told VOA on Tuesday that Tillerson is "absolutely correct" on Chinese influence in Africa, but "he did not say what will done to counter balance that influence".
Tillerson said he has made many trips to Africa before, in his former career as an oil executive.
"Five of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa, and consumer spending there is projected to exceed $2 trillion by the year 2025", he reportedly said ahead of the ministerial talks with foreign ministers and representatives of 37 African countries at the State Department in Washington.
After more than a year in office, Trump has not nominated a chief US diplomat for Africa, and embassies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Africa and in five other African countries remain without ambassadors.
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Tillerson had reiterated the importance of democracy for Africa to achieve her potentials.
He said the aid plan will help people affected by food shortages and conflict in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Lake Chad Basin.
In a speech Tuesday outlining the Trump administration's Africa policy, Tillerson said the United States is "eager" to lower barriers to trade and investment in Africa, whose largest trading partner by far is China.
Other countries that Mr. Tillerson will visit are Nigeria, Djibouti and Chad, countries ravaged by the threat of terror and corruption.
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He said China encouraged dependency, utilised corrupt deals and endangered its natural resources.
In Djibouti, China's development of its first overseas military base just a few miles away has been cause for concern for the USA, illustrating the military side of a broader competition between the US and China playing out across the continent.
The State Department stressed that the half-billion in additional dollars for Africa that Tillerson announced were humanitarian aid, not development assistance, and would come from the State Department's population and refugees office and from USAID programs for food and disaster assistance. Another $110 million was destined for Ethiopia to help amid a drought.
Of the newly-announced funds, almost $184 million is for affected populations in South Sudan and more than $110 million is for millions vulnerable in Ethiopia.
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