US Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday visited the site in Ghana where slaves were shipped to the Americas, saying the horror of slavery should not be forgotten.
Her visit to Ghana and later this week to Tanzania and Zambia follows a December summit hosted by President Joe Biden in Washington with African leaders to balance the rising influence of China and Russia on the continent.
The US vice president was given a guided tour of Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where slaves were shipped to North and South America and the Caribbean, shown the dungeons and the door of no return.
She laid a wreath in honour of those who died during the slave trade.
"The horror of what happened here must always be remembered," Harris said in solemn remarks, her voice almost breaking into tears.
"It cannot be denied, it must be taught, history must be learned, and we must then be guided by what we know also to be the history of those who survived on the Americas," she said.
Earlier on Tuesday in Accra, Harris called for more investments in innovation in Africa in a speech underlining her optimism for the continent.
After a stop at a music recording studio in Ghana's capital, she addressed a crowd of young entrepreneurs and leaders gathered at the Black Star Gate landmark.
"African ideas and innovations will shape the future of the world, and so we must invest in African ingenuity and creativity which will unlock incredible economic growth and opportunities," she said.
Harris underlined three areas of focus that the United States believes could benefit from more investment: women's empowerment, the digital economy and good governance and democracy.
While she noted some of the challenges facing the region, from insecurity to climate change and barriers to economic growth, Harris said the United States would remain "a steadfast partner for progress".
"We are 'all in' on Africa," she added, repeating what Biden said at the US-Africa leaders' summit last year.
"It means that the United States is committed to strengthen our partnerships across the continent... based on openness, inclusiveness, candour, shared interests, and mutual benefits."
Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff receive Kente cloths from Chief Osabarima Kwesi Atta II in Ghana. By Nipah Dennis (AFP)
At a state banquet on Monday with President Nana Akufo-Addo, Harris praised his initiatives that have encouraged descendants of slaves to "come home" since 2019.
"Hundreds of thousands of Black Americans and members of the diaspora around the world came here four years ago... many more visit each year. Your vision, Mr President, made this possible," she said.
Harris is expected in Tanzania on Wednesday and Zambia later in the week, as part of a three-nation tour of the continent.
On Monday, the United States said it "intends to provide $139 million in bilateral assistance for Ghana" for economic, health, business and cultural initiatives.
It also intends to invest more than $100 million to "support conflict prevention and stabilization efforts in coastal West Africa."
Ghana, along with neighbouring Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo, is at risk of jihadist violence spilling over its northern borders from the Sahel.