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 would like to commend King Mohammed VI for pardoning Hajar Raissouni, her fiancé, and Dr. Jamal Belkeziz for an alledged abortion allegation that Ms. Raissouni denied having.
"I am committed to human rights for all and disagree with the persecution or imprisonment of anyone because of their personal beliefs. The silver lining for this dark incident is that an open dialogue about the dated laws in Morocco is now taking place, creating a growing demand to repeal the illegalization of non-marital sex from the legal system.
“I would like to congratulate Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. This honor is well deserved for Africa’s youngest leader in his commitment to peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and throughout the Horn of Africa. His display of courage by signing a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea last year—ending one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts—was truly inspiring.
“I’m encouraged by the release of Maurice Kamto and dozens of supporters yesterday in Cameroon after months of detainment. The rule of law must be adhered to regarding the civil liberties of all Cameroonian citizens including the right to free speech and assembly without the threat of being detained. All parties, both the government and opposition groups, must come together to find a peaceful resolution to the country’s continuing conflict and I am hopeful that this release is a step in that direction.”
“I want to acknowledge the passing of former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. Robert Mugabe helped liberate Zimbabwe from the British colony in 1980 and served as its leader for 37 years. His ZANU-PF party won Zimbabwe’s first independent election. He helped build a foundation for a country where his government instituted health and education programs that lowered infant mortality rates and increased the number of high school and college graduates.
“I call on both the South African and Nigerian governments to stand in solidarity against isolated malicious attacks against the people of Nigeria and South Africa. I am extremely concerned by the increased violence and retaliatory attacks against citizens in both countries and denounce violence of any kind on the people of Nigeria and South Africa including the rape and kidnapping of young girls, and gender-based violence against women and young children.
“I am encouraged by the signing of a political agreement and Constitutional Declaration between the Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change. By swearing-in Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and the members of the sovereign council, Sudan is one step closer to a civilian-led government. The country is taking positive steps forward by having six civilians on the 11-person council including two women.
Led by Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chairwoman Karen Bass, Speaker Pelosi and 13 Members of the CBC concluded the historic trip to Ghana with a high-level meeting with Speaker Aaron Mike Oquaye and bipartisan leaders of the Ghanaian Parliament. The delegation also paid respects at Cape Coast and Elmina Castles and the “Door of No Return,” to observe the 400th Anniversary of the First Enslaved Africans Landing in America.
"At the beginning of this month, I held a hearing to examine the scope of the Ebola outbreak and what the United States government has done thus far to combat the latest Ebola epidemic,” said Rep. Bass. “The World Health Organization’s global health emergency declaration should shake the consciousness of the international community. I hope that this declaration will bring the international attention that this crisis deserves, including increased resources from the international community to tackle the outbreak.
"I’m encouraged by recent reports of a deal brokered in Sudan that will lead to a transition to civilian rule. As I have said before, the people of Sudan have the right to assemble without being killed or wounded. The violence must end and I am hopeful that when the deal is finalized on Monday, we will be closer to making that a reality."