Expert Voices

Tillerson outlines U.S.–Africa policy in time for visit

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a news conference with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki of Chad on March 8, 2018, at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Secretary Tillerson with African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki on March 8, 2018. Photo: Jonathan Ernst / AFP / Getty Images

The Trump administration has yet to chart a clear or coherent policy toward Africa, but that may now be changing. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s six-day trip to Africa marks by far the administration's highest-ranking official visit to the continent, following U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s well-received tour in October.

The background: Tillerson laid out the beginnings of an Africa policy in a speech at George Mason University on Tuesday. He acknowledged the importance of Africa's partnership to U.S. interests and spoke favorably of policy initiatives undertaken by previous administrations, referring to the historically bipartisan nature of U.S.–Africa relations.