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Tillerson Pledges $533 Million in US Humanitarian Aid to Africa

State Rex Tillerson with President Donald Trump. /REUTERS

Tillerson, who departs later Tuesday for Ethiopia, also sought to contrast the USA approach to Africa to that of China, which he says "encourages dependency" that undermines sovereignty on the continent.

USA secretary of State Rex Tillerson has criticized China's model of economic development in Africa, saying it encouraged dependency and denied governments long-term democratic growth.

The money given by the United States will be distributed among seven African countries.

Over the past two decades trade between Africa and China has soared, driven by China's demand for the continent's minerals. But he said the Chinese approach has led to mounting debt and few if any jobs in most countries.

Tillerson will also visit Kenya, where the political system is in turmoil over disputes related to President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election. That was in contrast, he added, to U.S. efforts to bolster democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law, and improve governance and long-term security goals. Another $110 million was destined for Ethiopia to help amid a drought.

He said China has focused on extending financial support in the fields of infrastructure building and productivity improvement.

Geng said China will continue to promote large-scale infrastructure and industrial development in Africa.

African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat (4th-L) speaks during a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (3rd-R) in Beijing, Feb. 8, 2018.

Tillerson also announced a $533m (£380m) humanitarian African aid plan.

Tillerson made the announcement at a speech in Virginia before departing for a week-long trip to several African countries.

It falls to Tillerson to mend the damage as he travels to the continent on Tuesday, becoming the most senior U.S. official to set foot there since Trump took office more than a year ago.

While the top U.S. diplomat has a broad itinerary on his five-nation trip, Africa experts say Tillerson's planned stops in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Chad and Nigeria underscore the emphasis on security - and away from the traditional United States role as advocate and partner for good governance and development.

He noted that by the year 2030, Africa would represent about one quarter of the world's workforce and by the year 2050, the population of the continent is expected to double to more than 2.5 billion people - with 70 per cent of them under the age of 30.

Tillerson also said US and African leaders "must work to find long-term diplomatic solutions" to regional conflicts "that cause so much human suffering."He announced the United States will give $533 million in additional aid to alleviate starvation and other needs caused by conflicts in Ethiopia, the Lake Chad Basin, Somalia and South Sudan".