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Blamuel Njururi – Nairobi, April 9, 2015 – President Barack Obama will make his first trip to Kenya as president in July to attend the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement on April 30, that the purpose of the trip was to “accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security” in Africa.
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit, an annual event since 2009, brings together entrepreneurs, investors, governments and other organizations to boost living standards around the world.
The trip will be Obama‘s fourth visit to sub-Saharan Africa during his presidency, and his first to Kenya, where his father was born.
White House spokesman Eric Schultz, speaking to reporters as the president traveled to Boston, said it was too soon to know whether Obama would have time to visit his Kenyan family in Luo Nyanza, while in Kenya.
Obama will be in Kenya for bilateral meetings and the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, an annual conference that connects entrepreneurs with business leaders, international organizations, and governments.
“His trip will build on the success of the August 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and continue our efforts to work with countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, to accelerate economic growth, strengthen democratic institutions, and improve security,” Press Secretary Earnest said in a statement.
The sixth annual summit will attempt to connect “emerging entrepreneurs with leaders from business, international organizations, and governments looking to support them.” The White House called the event a “global platform” for deepening relationships between the U.S. government, local leaders and communities.
This will be the President’s fourth trip to Sub-Saharan Africa. His last trip was in December 2013 for the funeral of Nelson Mandela. He also traveled to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania during summer 2013 for a series of events on the United States’ commitment to African economic growth, democratic institutions and young leadership development.
Obama famously traced his family’s roots in his 1995 memoir, “Dreams From My Father.” His father, Barack Obama, Sr., was born and raised in Kenya. He lived in the United States in the 1950s and 60s, and ultimately returned to his home country, where he died in a car accident in 1982.
Obama, right, in Kenya when he was a senator
Deputy Press Secretary Schultz told reporters additional details about the trip are forthcoming, and he did not yet know whether the President would visit with members of his extended family.
Obama Senior’s native country has also spurred controversy on the President’s birthplace and citizenship — a simple “Obama Kenya” Google search turns up countless conspiracy theories, which the President himself poked fun at earlier this month at the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner.
“If I did not love America, I wouldn’t have moved here from Kenya,” Obama, who was born in Hawaii, once joked.
In an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this month, the president said he couldn’t drive. Kimmel, the comedian, asked him whether that was because he lacked a birth certificate.
“In Kenya we drive on the other side of the road,” Obama said, with a hint of weariness.
Reinforcing the U.S.-Africa Partnership
Mid last year, the United States paved new pathways for her relationship with Africa by hosting the historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Fifty-one African leaders joined President Obama in Washington for a discussion on “Investing in the Next Generation”, the theme of the Summit. This gathering resulted in $33 billion dollars in new commitments to support economic growth across Africa, as well as tangible U.S. and African efforts to improve security, promote human rights and good governance, and provide opportunities for Africa’s sizeable youth population.
As the White House announced on today, the United States is partnering with the Government of Kenya to host the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). The President will travel to Kenya in July – his fourth trip to sub-Saharan Africa and the most of any sitting U.S. president – where he will participate in bilateral meetings and attend this important event.
Launched by President Obama in 2009, GES will bring together more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and investors from across Africa and around the world to showcase innovative projects, exchange new ideas, and help spur economic opportunity. This year’s Summit in Kenya will have an overarching focus on generating new investments in entrepreneurs, particularly women and young entrepreneurs.
Choosing Kenya as the destination for GES underscores the fact that Africa, and Kenya in particular, has become a center for innovation and entrepreneurship. Kenya is a world leader in mobile money systems like M-pesa and a driver of innovation, through creative spaces like “iHub.” These are just a few tangible demonstrations of the entrepreneurial spirit that is deeply rooted on the African continent.
Just as President Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in 1963 celebrated the connections between Irish-Americans and their forefathers, President Obama’s trip will honor the strong historical ties between the United States and Kenya – and all of Africa – from the millions of Americans who trace their ancestry to the African continent, to the more than 100,000 Americans that live in or visit Kenya each year.
The President’s trip will be an opportunity to point to the progress already made in improving health, education, human rights and good governance, security, and economic growth across the continent, while helping to spark new opportunities for future generations.