Tillerson also lauded the progress Africa, as a continent, has made with democracy. "When do we get to see the outlines of what the Trump Africa policy is?"
He will spend about a week on the continent visiting countries that play key roles in addressing Africa's security challenges, including Nigeria, Chad and Djibouti, which houses the only permanent USA military base in Africa.
"Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa's infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries", Tillerson added."When coupled with the political and fiscal pressure, this endangers Africa's natural resources and its long-term economic, political stability".
China is aggressively working to expand its regional influence, which is something of concern to US lawmakers. "The substance of what he conveys may be more diverse, but given the signals coming out of the White House and administration to date, I imagine that security is top of the order, along with cementing relationships with partners that the U.S. considers important security players".
Mr Tillerson did not include Kenya, however, among the countries to benefit from a $533 million USA famine-prevention initiative he announced on Tuesday.
In Ethiopia, for example, total USA investment of around $567 million, is dwarfed by Chinese investments, which are more than $15 billion, according to the State Department.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, previewing Tillerson's trip, Dona Yamamoto, acting assistant secretary of state for African affairs, stressed the need for investment in girls' education and entrepreneurial and youth development programs.
Of the newly announced funds, more than $128 million is for affected populations from Nigeria and countries in the Lake Chad region.