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 condemn the recent attacks in Sudan where many were killed and hundreds were injured. This appears to be a planned attack to repress the Sudanese people’s right to free assembly and abandon the rule of law. As bodies are recovered from the Nile, the United States and the international community must call for an investigation into this attack.
"More than 1,200 people have died from Ebola in northeastern Congo since August of last year. The rising numbers of new Ebola cases demand our attention and action to ensure we do not face another epidemic. This outbreak is at risk of becoming a pandemic if it is not brought under control. Despite the use of preventive tools and new therapeutics, the number of cases continue to rise. This legislation makes it clear to USAID that they can legally move forward with assistance to combat the Ebola outbreak appropriately.
“I am disappointed that security forces would fire live ammunition rounds causing multiple fatalities in order to disband sit-ins and peaceful protests in Sudan. I am also discouraged that the military has shut down media networks in Khartoum, which is a clear infringement upon the freedom of the press. I wholeheartedly believe the Sudanese people are not defeated by this attack and will continue to fight for their right to civilian rule through peaceful protests.
"Despite socio-political and economic challenges, Malawi is a great example of democracy on the continent. I am hopeful that their presidential and parliamentary electoral results will reflect the will of the people, and I urge young people to be politically active and let their voices be heard through the power of the vote. Malawi is a shining example of how a country can transfer from a dictatorial rule to one of peace, but it must continue to improve its good governance to increase the development of its institutions."
"Congratulations to South Africa on 25 years of democracy after the fall of the apartheid regime. But like any young democracy, the country has some challenges. The racial disparities and wealth divide are important issues that the country must confront. This election has the potential to invigorate the nation and set it back on a path of being a pillar of the continent. As millions of South Africans cast their votes, I am hopeful it will be peaceful and the election results will be the choice of the people."
“The ongoing crisis and violence taking place in Cameroon at this very moment is something that deserves the attention of the world. Both the government and armed groups must be held accountable for their role in the violation of fundamental human rights. 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 or executed.
“I am disappointed by the detainment of journalists and the control of the internet and social media platforms in Benin by the government during the elections. A fair democratic system allows for the right to peacefully assemble, protest, and express views that may disagree with the existing state. The escalating number of arrests and detentions around elections in Benin are very troubling, and journalists must be able to do their job without fear of being arrested.
“On World Malaria Day, we must continue to raise the awareness of this deadly disease that affects millions of people globally, with hundreds of thousands of children under the age of five dying annually. I applaud the global community in its efforts to combat and control the spread of this disease as we reach our goal of eradicating malaria. Estimates show that the Mosquirix vaccine will reach approximately 360,000 children per year starting in Malawi, Ghana, and Kenya.
“My thoughts are with the people of Northern Mozambique and Tanzania as Cyclone Kenneth makes landfall with winds equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane. This just a little more than a month after Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi were all hit by Cyclone Idai, one of the deadliest and costliest storms in Mozambique’s history. All humanitarian and international organizations must work together during the recovery efforts of all affected countries, and I’m confident that USAID and others will do so.”