The African continent has long captured international attention, for its cultural and societal diversity, its awe-inspiring landscapes and wildlife as well for the social and political challenges. Over the last 50 years, the continent has emerged more peaceful and stable than at any other time in contemporary history. And for over a decade now, a number of African nations have experienced double-digit or near double-digit economic growth.
Congressmember Bass seeks to transform how we think and engage African nations and to promote the many opportunities to promote trade and economic growth between the U.S. and African nations. A top priority for Congressmember Bass is the African Growth and Opportunities Act or AGOA, our country’s trade preference program with eligible African nations. While conflict and global health challenges remain a concern and must be addressed, Africa nations are eager to engage the United States, in particular, Congress, on trade versus aid opportunities.
The tragic kidnapping of Nigerian girls by Boko Haram captured international awareness in May 2014 and inspired a social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls. On social media, traditional media, and in Congress, Congressmember Bass is a vocal advocate for girls' education, anti-trafficking legislation, and international efforts to stop Boko Haram.
Watch Congressmember Bass's interviews about the U.S. response to the missing Nigerian girls above.
Key Foreign Policy Initiatives & Accomplishments
Africa Trade and Investment
Congressmember Karen Bass is an advocate for robust trade and investment-oriented relationships between the U.S. and the nations of Africa with the goal of not only expanding relations, but securing and increasing jobs here at home and in Africa. One of her key priorities is the re-authorization of a strengthened Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that enables the nations of Africa to export goods to the U.S. duty free. AGOA plays a central role in efforts to expand economic growth on the continent and in so doing provide prime opportunities for U.S. companies to invest in Africa and work/partner with African companies. These initiatives are critical given the role increasingly played by Africa in the global economy. Africa is currently home to 6 out of the 7 fastest growing economies in the world and is viewed by investors from Europe, Malaysia, China, India, Turkey and Brazil as a priority region for investment.
With this in mind, Congressmember Bass places a priority on developing strong economic between the U.S. and Africa. As the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, she helped lead Congressional efforts in the passage of HR 5986 to extend a special provision (Third Country Fabric Provision) under AGOA.
Mindful of the importance of supporting AGOA, Congressmember is also an original co-sponsor of both the “Increasing American Jobs through Greater Exports to Africa Act of 2013” (HR 1777) , and “Electrifying Africa Act of 2013 (HR 2548) – bills aimed at supporting greater U.S. trade and investment with the continent.
Other Africa-related legislative resolutions sponsored by Congressmember Bass include:
- HRes. 131 Concerning the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the need for international efforts toward long-term peace, stability, and observance of human rights
- HRes. 186 Congratulating the people of Kenya on their commitment to peaceful elections, as demonstrated on March 4, 2013, and calling on Kenyans to come together to continue to implement political, institutional, and accountability reforms envisioned in the Kenyan constitution.
- HRes. 234 Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and commending its successor, the African Union
Watch Congressmember Bass speak about U.S.-Africa Policy:
More on U.S.-Africa Policy
"I was encouraged by the minimal violence last night as the protestors stayed out beyond the curfew. I encourage all parties to refrain from violence as citizens exercise their right to peacefully protest and demand a transition to civilian rule. The announced two-year transition to a civilian government is unacceptable. In view of the ongoing developments I want to applaud all protest groups for exercising their human rights, and I discourage any unconstitutional change of government and compel Sudan to respect the rule of law, and democratic ideals.
“The news of President Omar al-Bashir’s resignation after months of protests demonstrates that governments must be responsive to their citizens' demands for inclusive governance, respect of human rights and the basic right of their citizens to peacefully express their civil liberties. I support the Sudanese people’s consistent and peaceful demands for a citizen-led transition to democracy.
“I am very concerned that Libya is now on the brink of an all-out civil war. I am concerned for the people who are being displaced because of this violence and also echo the UN’s concerns for migrants and asylum seekers in detention around the country. I urge Libyan factions to end the fighting, which has endangered the lives of many civilians, and to return to negotiations."
“I again call on the government of Sudan to refrain from all violence and to respect citizen’s rights to freedom of assembly and expression. The United States supports the Sudanese people’s desire for democratic, representative governance and the freedom to exercise their civil liberties. These events taking place are very concerning to the international community and I am committed to ensuring that the government respects the human rights of all people in Sudan.”
“My thoughts are with the hundreds of thousands in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi who have been affected by Cyclone Idai over the past week. The devastation this storm has caused deserves the attention and support of the international community to rebuild. I’m encouraged by the level of humanitarian assistance to the affected countries and fully expect that the United States Agency for International Development will assist appropriately.”
“I am encouraged by President Tshisekedi’s decision to pardon prisoners of conscience and other people arbitrarily detained. This is an important step towards restoring human rights in the country. I look forward to the additional steps President Tshisekedi takes toward strengthening democracy and rule of law in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
“It was important our first Congressional Delegation trip of this Congress be to the Horn of Africa because of the change the region is going through following the historic peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea that ended 20 years of conflict,” said Representative Bass. “Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came into office with a serious reform agenda aimed at ending political repression. Since coming into office, the Prime Minister has freed thousands of political prisoners, opened the media, and appointed women to half of the cabinet posts.
“Despite the many challenges, such as postponements and protests, Nigerians once again exhibited their strong dedication to electoral and democratic processes and I applaud them for that.
“These emerging events are very concerning. Security forces will have greater powers and I am concerned that this could lead to increasing crackdown on civilians including more arrests, holding protesters in detention for longer without access to lawyers, and even deaths.
“This new path is unfortunate. The United States relationship with Sudan was moving in a positive direction and this will certainly impact that progress. The U.S. supports the Sudanese people’s desire for democratic, representative governance and the freedom to exercise their civil liberties.