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Congresswoman Karen Bass

Representing the 37th District of California

U.S.-Africa Policy

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.

Learn about the Africa Policy Breakfast series.

Subscribe to Africa Updates from the office of Congressmember Bass.

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:

Watch Congressmember Bass speak about U.S.-Africa Policy:


More on U.S.-Africa Policy

February 27, 2017 Event

Please join Rep. Karen Bass, Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, as she kicks off the 2017 Africa Policy Breakfast Series. 

February 23, 2017 Press Release

"In the wake of several years of internal conflict, growing insecurity and deliberate restriction of humanitarian activities, famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan. At risk are an estimated 4 million men, women, and children. These people are suffering not because of an absence of assistance, but because of the inability of U.S.,UK,  EU and several other key international humanitarian players to access communities in need and provide critical lifesaving assistance.

February 13, 2017 Press Release

"Once again, we are witnessing dangerous attempts by the Trump administration to roll back legislation aimed at protecting the human and civil rights of people not only in this country but abroad. Prior to the Dodd-Frank Act’s implementation, local militias sought to finance their conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the immediate region by the sale of 'conflict minerals.' Section 1502  ensured that thousands of civilians in the affected regions are no longer subject to such violence or intimidation by warring factions.

February 13, 2017 Press Release

“I congratulate Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on his election as President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.  Somalia has made tremendous progress in its recovery from decades of debilitating civil war.  I sincerely wish the Somali people continued success in the task of nation-building.  While elections must be conducted by way of parliamentary representatives in order to avoid terrorists’ attempts to disrupt the election process, I am confident that the Federal Republic of Somalia will achieve one person- one vote by the year 2020.”

February 3, 2017 Press Release

“I am greatly concerned over recent reports indicating that there has been increasing intimidation by the Government of the Republic of Cameroon against the English-speaking population of the country.

“I urge the Government of the Cameroon to respect  the civil and human rights of all of its citizens and immediately end its violent attacks on protesters, end the internet blackout in majority English-speaking regions, and ease restrictions regarding what the media is allowed to report.”

January 31, 2017 Press Release

“Mr. President, the refugees from the three African countries you have banned are attempting to escape war, persecution or famine. The majority are seeking shelter, food, and safety,” Rep. Bass wrote. “They wait years to be selected by a country and have to undergo an extremely thorough vetting process.”

January 30, 2017 Press Release

"I extend my congratulations and sincere greetings to His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat on his election as the Chairperson of the African Union Commission.

"I look forward to further reinforcing our working relationship with the African Union Commission as well as continuing our excellent relationship with the African Union Mission in Washington. D.C.

January 26, 2017 In The News

The Digital GAP Act states that it is U.S. policy to work to close the digital gap in developing countries. Nearly 60 percent of the world’s seven billion people are not online, and 90 percent of these populations lacking access to the internet are found in developing countries. With a huge population in Sub-Saharan Africa under the age of 30, the African Union has increasingly promoted the importance of the development of an information literate population. The importance of an I.T.

January 23, 2017 Press Release

“I welcome the departure of former President Yahya Jammeh from The Gambia, and I congratulate, once again, Gambia's new President, Adama Barrow, on not only his December 2, 2016, election but for his demeanor throughout the subsequent crisis.

‎I would be remiss if I did not heartily commend the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), for their concerted defense of the landmark free and fair election in the Republic of The Gambia of Opposition Coalition leader, now- President Barrow.

January 9, 2017 Press Release

Last Saturday, Rep. Karen Bass (D- Calif.) represented President Barack Obama and the United States as part of a Presidential Delegation to Ghana to attend the Inauguration of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo as the next president of the African country. Rep. Bass joined Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield and the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana Robert Jackson.