BLOG: We are proud to welcome Obama to our beautiful city
This week is historic for Nairobi and the whole of Kenya. The visit of an American president always creates a stir.
The fact that President Barack Obama’s father was born on these shores means that this visit carries a special significance.
His ascension to a position of such global significance instils a tremendous sense of pride in Kenyans and brings us together to welcome him.
For many, the elaborate security precautions that must be put in place often mean disruption for local businesses and residents. Some roads will be closed and diversions may cause congestion in particular areas of the city.
The smooth running of Nairobi is ultimately my responsibility and the county government is doing all it can to ensure that the entire weekend passes without a hitch and with minimal disruption.
I also wish all our visitors from abroad a warm welcome to Kenya, and especially Nairobi. I am thrilled that our capital city has been given the responsibility of hosting such an important event.
The arrival of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) here could not have come at a better time. I am sure President Obama’s visit will be greeted by enthusiasm.
The support that Kenyans continue to show him is not based on blind adoration of his power or prestige. Rather, it is because our heritage is based on shared values — freedom, fairness, and most crucially, aspiration.
And that is why we must also not forget why President Obama is visiting Kenya. Yes, his trip here is filled with symbolism, but it is also because he is to attend the summit. President Obama has personally driven this agenda forward since he took office, as he has boldly catapulted entrepreneurship to the forefront of his development agenda.
It is fitting that the GES has finally come to Sub-Saharan Africa. Since the turn of the century, our continent has seen monumental change. Access to education has grown tremendously and technology has enabled the continent to take huge strides in development, giving rise to new young dynamic economies. Nairobi is a fascinating window into this rapidly evolving landscape.
AT THE FOREFRONT
The spread of high-speed internet and mobile G and 4G technology, the rise of tech hubs, and the huge interest of the global business community in our country put Nairobi at the forefront of African capital cities and a model in the use of technology in addressing the myriads of issues that modern cities face.
The main topic of this weeks’ summit affects us all. The role of entrepreneurs is fundamental in nurturing young talent and offering opportunities and employment.
Although urban areas like Nairobi offer increasing job opportunities, these opportunities are not growing at the same rate as our youth population, creating a troubling employment gap. So, while Africa is enjoying this renaissance of sorts, we are not seeing the same progress in access to jobs.
We will not be able to generate enough jobs, in the short term, so entrepreneurship is crucial to helping tackle this deficit. We must empower young people to create their own job opportunities.
The young people I regularly meet throughout Nairobi are not only ambitious, but display an enviable level of pragmatism and logic. These are fundamental qualities to entrepreneurs.
As access to education and technology increases, it will be up to both the government and the private sector to harness this reservoir of talent and ambition among our youth. It is vital in ensuring that both Kenya’s and Africa’s development story is not one of a one-dimensional resources bonanza but a historic shift to dynamic, innovative, and trend-setting economies.
In Nairobi, we are determined to lead the way in driving this innovation. I am proud of our $2 million initiative to connect over 2,000 schools to fixed internet. This is just the beginning.
This weekend should reignite the conversation of how we can nurture this pool of untapped talent that often sits idle. So let us take advantage of the opportunities this week’s visit and summit present. President Obama symbolises a young man who used his talent and drive to make a real difference. It is now time for those in government and our partners in the business sector to find the stars of the future.
Dr Kidero is the governor of Nairobi City County