Africa open for business with President Obama’s visit
President Obama and Kenyatta attend a panel discussion at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. From left are President Obama; Judith Owegar, co-founder of Akirachix; Kenyatta; Josipa Majic, CEO of Teddy the Guardian; and Jahiel Oliver, CEO of Hello Tractor.
By Roger Caldwell
This past weekend, President Barack Obama attended the sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi Kenya, July 24 thru 26, 2015.
The week’s summit is an opportunity to bring global investors, and venture capitalists from America and other countries together to learn and discuss what economic business activities are available in Africa.
Three of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa, and the cities and countries are Nairobi, Kenya, Cape Town, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria. Africa is waking up from a long sleep and this new gene-ration understands the importance of technology.
Today, Nairobi is the site of major African headquarters for such major companies as Google, Microsoft, and IBM.
President Obama is the first sitting American president to visit Kenya, and he is commit-ted to making the United States a partner in Africa’s growth. “This promise includes initiatives like Power Africa, which is working with African governments and private sector leaders to add more than 30,000 megawatts of cleaner electricity to power 60 million homes and businesses. The administration’s Young African Leaders Initiatives is helping to develop business skills while cultivating a network for young emerging African leaders” says Maria Contreras-Sweet, Lead Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurs.
As for President Obama’s first official trip to Kenya, he was greeted by adoring crowds throughout the country, and the nation considers him a local son. At the hotel he met and had dinner with three dozen family members because this is his father’s homeland. “There are cousins and uncles and aunties that show up you didn’t know existed, but you’re always happy to meet” says the President.
This is the President’s fourth visit to the continent, and he concluded this trip in Kenya on Sunday. He will also visit Ethiopia. In Kenya, President Obama discussed issues on corruption, counterterrorism, and gay rights Saturday with warm reflections of being in Africa. He also urged Kenya’s leaders to keep up efforts to combat corruption, calling it the biggest potential threat to Kenya’s economic growth.
On Sunday, President Obama gave an emotional speech inside a packed Nairobi gymnasium filled with nearly 5,000 cheering Kenyans. “When it comes to the people of Kenya, especially the youth, I believe there is no limit to what you can achieve. You can build your future right here, right now” said President Obama.
The sixth Global Entrepreneurship Summit is extremely important to Africa’s future and sustainability. Many of the orders and businesses on the continent are on hold because the American lawmakers must approve financing for the Export-Import Bank. This infusion of funds is in jeopardy, and must be approved by the Republicans who think investing in Africa is a bad deal.
If the United States refuses to invest in Africa, other countries such as China and Russia will expand their investments in the continent. If the United States refuses to become a major player in the African emerging economy, we will lose billions of dollars in investments. The future of the world economy will be connected to Africa, and America must be engaged on the ground floor.
Building power plants takes time, and Power Africa officials are looking at secured deals that are closed rather than power plants already built. Power Africa says they have leveraged more than $18 billion in deals closed with private sector financing. It is obvious that many of these deals are not a result of U.S. efforts, and Africa is doing deals with countries around the world.
Doing business in Africa is a difficult task because the continent struggles with corruption, disease, and poverty. But Africa is open for business, the opportunities are endless, and there are Africans becoming millionaire and billionaires every month. African Americans must look to Africa for business opportunities because now is the time to get on the ground floor.