AMNA NAWAZ: Now, from the political landscape around the vice president's trip to the realities on the ground in Africa and the changing relationship between the U.S. and the 56 nations of the continent.
Gyude Moore served as minister of public works in Liberia and is the director of the Africa Initiative at the Center for Global Development, a think tank.
Gyude Moore, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thanks for joining us.
So, Vice President Harris is now the fifth high-ranking U.S. official to visit Africa from the Biden administration.
What message do you take away from that about how the U.S. views the continent right now?
GYUDE MOORE, Center for Global Development: So, I think -- thanks for having me again.
I think the first thing is that this is a stark change from the administration that came before.
When the previous administration announced is Africa policy, there wasn't even a Cabinet-level official.
This is the fifth high-ranking official there.
And we gauge the value of the relationship between any two places in how high the level of exchange is between them.
This also follows from August of last year the launch of the new U.S.-Africa strategy, then the African Leaders Summit.
It seems that, both in rhetoric and perception, and we're looking to see in substance, that the U.S. is actually backing up President Biden's declaration that the U.S. is all in Africa and is going to treat Africa as partners.
AMNA NAWAZ: So, let's talk about some of that substance now.
We saw Vice President Harris kick off her tour announcing $100 million in investment and new support for a few countries.
That is Benin, Ghana, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, and Togo.
That follows a $55 billion December pledge by President Biden to the continent over the next three years.
Does that say to you that the U.S. is all in, as President Biden put it?
GYUDE MOORE: Well, absolutely.
So, and one of the things you will notice about the vice president's travel is a lot of focus on the creative industries.
If you have followed the continent in any way over the past decade or so, you will see that, outside of extractives and agriculture, the place with the greatest potential now is the creatives and the tech sector.
And so she paid homage to that.
And she's followed by celebrities who are active in that space.
The $55 billion is an accumulation of American commitments on the continent, existing commitments, and some new ones, like digital.
So, when Japan had its meeting with Africa, TICAD, Japan pledged $30 billion over the same three-year period.
And now we're seeing the U.S. with $55 billion over that period.
It shows, in my view, that the Americans are sort of stepping up the game, because, as you noted, for the last two decades, China has actually increased its influence on the continent.
And many in the foreign policy sector here in the U.S. feel like it came at the cost to the U.S. And so the U.S. is stepping up its game.
AMNA NAWAZ: Well, tell me a little bit more about that, because one of the three nations that Vice President Harris is visiting is Tanzania.
The president of Tanzania, Samia Suluhu Hassan's first state visit outside of Africa was to Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping.
Where does Chinese influence fit into all of this?
GYUDE MOORE: I think so, for a long time, at least since 2000, China has been the largest bilateral lender when it comes to infrastructure financing in Africa.
And because Africa lags the rest of the world on infrastructure coverage, especially when it comes to transport infrastructure and electricity, most African governments turn to China.
And the United States is also heavily present on the continent, but in soft issues, in human capital issues, health, education.
There needs to be a balance between the two.
And so, as long as China continue to dominate in providing physical infrastructure, rail, ports, roads, airports, most African countries turn to that.
And I think, over time, the United States sort of realized that by ceding that entire space to a peer competitor was not the best thing.
And so we're beginning to see a change.
The DFC is now more active in Africa, investing in infrastructure, especially the digital infrastructure.
So I think, for Africans, this is good.
This is the kind of competition we want between two great powers to see who is a better partner to Africa, so sort of a race to the top between the United States and China.
AMNA NAWAZ: But U.S. officials like Harris say that they're not asking nations to choose between the U.S. and China.
As Harris has said, she wants nations there to expand their options.
Given the competition between the U.S. and China, what does that look like to you in practical terms?
GYUDE MOORE: Well, I think Africa is very large, and the scale and scope of the challenges on the continent mean that there's not a single partner who could be able to meet all of that.
So, instead of finding a partner of choice specific in China or the United States, most Africans are going to try to expand the choice of partners they have to deal with.
But I think, in the long run, because it is a zero sum game between the United States and China, a gain for one is going to be perceived as a loss for the other.
So, even if Americans aren't asking Africans to choose, somehow, along the way, they hope that the rise in their influence will come at the cost of their competitor.
AMNA NAWAZ: That is Gyude Moore, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, joining us tonight.
Thank you for your time.
GYUDE MOORE: Thanks for having me.