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
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."
"It is unacceptable for Sudanese security forces to shoot peaceful protesters who only want a civilian-led government. The people of Sudan have the right to assemble and demand that the Sudanese security forces negotiate without being killed or wounded. We stand with the African Union and the international community in demanding that the security forces stop assaulting their citizens and go back to the negotiating table. The violence against the people of Sudan is intolerable and will be met with severe consequences."
You can read the resolution here.
“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."