This comes after it was revealed the number of people killed by terror attacks in Africa in the last year is as large, if not larger, than the deaths inflicted by ISIS in the Middle East.
Obama administration officials testifying before the Senate said that even as Africans continue to struggle with militant groups such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, ISIS is also working to infiltrate countries through Africa, which intensifies the terrorist threat.
The assessment lead a senior lawmaker to question whether race explains why the U.S. is not more involved in the fight on the continent, CNN reported.
Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat seen as a potential vice president to Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, questioned why the U.S. isn't more active in Africa.
"We've got to look in the mirror and ask if race is a reason," Kaine said, adding that history shows race can colour policy decisions, citing analysts who questioned why in the 1990s the U.S. was willing to intervene in the Balkans to stop a potential genocide but didn't have the will to act in Rwanda.
He also pointed to media coverage of terror attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad that did not receive as much attention as similar attacks in Europe.
He believed this suggests "some lives are worth less than others."
Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who was in Ghana in April, told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the administration is concerned about the risk that the presence and potential expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the continent will grow.
She said that the number of people killed by African militant groups was "as large, if not larger, than the number of people killed by ISIL."
Thomas-Greenfield said that to date, African terrorism has largely been focused on Africa and hasn't posed a comparable threat to the U.S. or Europe.
She and other officials outlined U.S. efforts to fight the threat by addressing corruption, improving governance and strengthening economies, and the importance of working with women and girls to identify the seeds of radicalism.