Seeking to respond to the increased policymaker interest in the African continent – a product of scheduled increases in aid flows to Africa (through the Millennium Challenge Account and HIV/AIDS programming), and new concerns about national security implications of failed and failing states, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, with support from the Ford Foundation and supplemental funding from the Carnegie Corporation, launched a new Congressional Staff Forum on Africa. Its targeted audience consists of key Congressional staffers who serve Congressional leaders and the members of those committees that impact on American foreign policy toward Africa.

The principal objectives of the CSFA are to increase the saliency of Africa for the U.S. Congress and to generate a more informed American policy toward Africa, to encourage staff and Member engagement on Africa-related Congressional initiatives, and to deepen a trans-Atlantic dialogue on Africa. Each year, thirty to forty Congressional staffers, selected on the basis of their responsibility for Africa-related policy issues, are invited to participate in a three-day retreat and a series of intensive seminars. These seminars, utilizing a variety of African, European and American resources, center on contemporary African social and political dynamics, and address a myriad of issues confronting both African and American policy makers.

Congressional Staff Forum Participants

The participants of the Congressional Staff Forum on Africa include congressional staff who serve the House and Senate leadership, and who serve the Members of those Congressional Committees that are involved in foreign policymaking and in the making of foreign aid appropriations, or who play key roles on other committees whose legislative product impacts on U.S./Africa relations. (e.g., House and Senate Agriculture Committees, House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee).

Inasmuch as the Forum seeks to deepen the institutional and bipartisan cohesion among Congressional staff that can impact Africa policy, we have attempted to maintain a balance, both as between House and Senate, and as between the political parties. The Forum sought to involve as many senior staff as possible. These are the individuals who are likely to have the greatest influence on policy development. Thus, Forum participants include a number of senior committee and personal staff.

Recent CSFA seminars have addressed U.S. Support for Peacekeeping in Africa, the role of Congress in the appropriations and budgeting process for foreign assistance and the Millennium Challenge Account.

Selected resources developed for CSFA seminars can be found by following the links on the right side of this page.

For further information, please contact the Africa Program.