WASHINGTON — As part of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual Legislative Conference, Rep. Karen Bass welcomed attendees to the annual Africa Braintrust Forum Sept. 16.
This year’s theme, “U.S. – Africa Policy in the Next Administration,” brought together American and African government officials as well as prominent private sector leaders to discuss possible key priorities for the next presidential administration with an eye toward building on initiatives in the areas of economic development, trade and investment; health and education; and the central theme of democracy and governance on the African continent.
Bass, D-Los Angeles, the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Africa and honorary Co-Chair of the conference, said: “The next administration must keep a laser focus on Africa and continue the legacy of President Obama over the last eight years, building on his historic trade agreements, and his historic view of the continent as a key partner in our interconnected world,.”
Speakers from each panel outlined what is needed and necessary to sustain the relationship between the U.S. and Africa in the next administration, and discussed the goal of ending global poverty by 2030. The panelists lamented the need to discuss Africa, not as a group of individual countries, but as a continent that needs more cohesiveness; while also noting that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to solving the issues that plague the nation and its diverse countries.
Participants provided recommendations such as encouraging more U.S. investment, good governance practices and the growth of small business, using successful U.S. entrepreneurs as a model to implement in Africa. Panelists also recommended continuing policies that have achieved real impact in the African continent, such as the Feed the Future Program started by President Obama, and Bush administration programs like the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Additionally, experts urged the increased investment in agricultural industry – the greatest employer of people in Africa.
President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi of Mozambique headlined the first panel discussion. He discussed the longstanding friendship between the U.S. and his country during his keynote speech.
“Our two countries maintain mutual respect that is sustained by dialogue in part thanks to the Congressional Black Caucus and the U.S. Congress in general,” Nyusi said.