6 Things We Learnt about African Growth When Obama Visited Kenya







1. The USA backs Africa for Growth

“There aren’t too many things where Republicans and Democrats agree these days.  But expanding trade and investment, and deepening our relationship with Africa is something that garnered bipartisan support.  And it’s an indication of how the American people feel.”

The two sides of the political coin in America can sometimes seem so divided that it is difficult to find anything they agree on. But on Africa, the whole of the United States political sphere is agreed. Since the millennium both sides of the house have put in place legislation to support growth in sub-Saharan Africa, and Barack Obama’s visit produced a new wave of links showing how important the African economy is to the USA.

The fact is, if both the Republicans and the Democrats in America agree on something, you know it’s a good idea.


  1. The International community sees the value of higher education for young Africans as vital to African growth.

“We will extend student and business visas for up to five years for Kenyans traveling to the United States and for Americans traveling to Kenya.  This will make it easier for university students to complete their studies and for businesses to make long-term plans.”

America has some of the greatest educational institutes in the world, and students who are lucky enough to study there are presented with the best opportunities. There is no doubt that Africa is growing, but its higher education provision is behind other parts of the world, particularly the USA. It was welcome news then when the President announced an extension of the education visa from three to five years. The additional time is vital for students to complete the higher levels of study required for students to become leaders in their field, and lead Africa in its growth. It was also pleasing to hear the President reference the Mandela Fellowship, the scheme to take future leaders of Africa to the USA to learn vital skills and network, so that they can be prepared for leadership in their home nations when they return.


  1. The future is bright – and the lights are not going out.

“Our Power Africa initiative is supporting Kenya’s goal of achieving its national energy needs — electricity for Kenyans — by 2030.”

It is still astonishing that in 2015, two thirds of sub-Saharan Africans lack access to electricity. It is a sad fact which has damaged the life chances for many young Africans as the rest of the world moves further into the technological age. But the Power Africa initiative is changing the landscape of Africa, and building futures for its industries. It’s only been running for two years, but its impact can already be seen in the hundreds of projects across Africa. If Kenya can have the entire nation connected by 2030, it can only mean more growth for the nations businesses. If other countries can achieve the same, Africa will blossom.


  1. Africa needs to prepare to become a huge economic power

“Now that we’ve renewed the African Growth and Opportunity Act, or AGOA, for another 10 years, I discussed with President Kenyatta how we can expand our economic cooperation.  And we’re especially focused on infrastructure and energy — two keys to economic growth.”

The renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act was excellent news for all sub-Saharan economies. Duty-free products mean more money for investment, and that investment goes a long way in Africa. With the President keen to explore improvements in infrastructure and energy, the indications are that Africa has a lot to offer, as soon as it have the energy to make it and the infrastructure to produce it. There is a lot going on in Africa, and it needs to prepare for bigger things.


  1. Talented young people with a voice are the key to Africa joining the international marketplace.

“Because if Kenya can put in place the habits and institutions of good governance, it can help unleash even greater growth and investment and prosperity for the Kenyan people.  And that will be good for everybody.”

Barack Obama spent a lot of time talking about corruption on his visit, and it was obvious that he thought the new democratic systems were a big step forward in bringing Africa into the global economy. What was clear from this is the obligation on the new generation of Africans to lead on anticorruption and create a system that benefits every African in every country.


  1. Africa has talent – and it can go anywhere

“Because of Kenya’s progress, because of your potential, you can build your future right here, right now.”

The most poignant thing that the President said was something that he didn’t say outright, but something which is obvious in his support of the sub-Saharan area. When Barack Obama tells the story of his forefathers, he is telling the story of Africa. And the climax to that story is this, if you are determined, and you make bold choices, and you take your talents and make the best of them, you can be anything. The same goes for Africa. A determined Africa, which invests in its own future, and takes its people and empowers them, will become an ever more successful continent, with booming economies and social mobility.

So when Barack Obama came to Kenya, we learnt about the economic policies, the infrastructure projects, the charitable causes and the political processes of Africa. But we also learnt about what people can see in Africa’s people and what people can see, is the future.


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