Congressman Panetta, Colleagues Lead Bipartisan Coalition to Strengthen Partnerships with African Nations

October 26, 2020
Press Release

SALINAS, CA – Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), Austin Scott (R-GA) and Richard Hudson (R-NC) have introduced the Africa Foreign Relations, International Cooperation, and Assistance (AFRICA) Act, H.R. 8186, to enhance security and economic partnerships between the United States and African countries.  The bill requires the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to submit a report on the groundwork necessary to strengthen these critical alliances and relationships.

The 2017 United States National Security Strategy recognized the strategic importance of the rapidly growing and democratizing African continent.  Together, African countries represent approximately 16 percent of the global population and 60 percent of the population under the age of 25.  By 2050, Africa is expected to have more than half of the global population.  As this region enters a new period, United States partnership and engagement with African countries will help defend peace and security, advance economic prosperity, and promote respect for fundamental human rights.

"Our security and economic relationships in Africa must foster democratic and developmental advancement,” said Congressman Panetta. “The AFRICA Act is a positive step in ensuring continued, mutual support.  I am glad to lead on this legislation so that U.S.-Africa engagement supports prosperity, democratic values, and humanitarian priorities."

“Global stability, American security and economic opportunity require us to be engaged with our allies and partners in Africa. The AFRICA Act is a starting point toward stronger, more mutually beneficial relationships on the continent,” said Congressman Brown. “I’ve seen firsthand the aspirational progress being made toward a more democratic, economically prosperous and secure Africa. Through increased engagement we will continue to foster these bonds.” 

“I am proud to join my colleagues on the AFRICA Act because it will expand DOD's theater security cooperation efforts across the entire continent of Africa. I have had the opportunity to visit several countries in Africa on multiple occasions to see firsthand how the men and women of the U.S. military are working to support and expand our partnerships. The good work they have done over the years to foster security must not be squandered by allowing U.S. adversaries like Communist China and Russia, who are bent on stealing the natural resources of the continent, to gain a foothold in the region,” said Congressman Austin Scott.

The AFRICA Act was included in the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the House of Representatives. The cosponsors urge inclusion of the bill in the final conference report.  Last year, Congressman Panetta led his colleagues on a congressional delegation to the U.S. Africa Command area of operation to assess security concerns, diplomatic requirements, and humanitarian assistance needs.