By Uhuru Kenyatta
There are those who imagine the future. And then there are those who create it — those who transform our societies so completely that we forget there ever existed another way.
This weekend, it is our privilege to host many of them. The world’s foremost thought leaders, business development experts, and emerging and established entrepreneurs and innovators, will meet in Nairobi for the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit.
On the agenda will be possibility. It is only fitting, then, that this year’s summit is hosted by Kenya; a country that epitomises the transformational power of possibility.
Our country, once known for its savannah, has now earned an international reputation as the Silicon Savannah. A country where the vibrancy of the economy is matched only by the verve of our youth, and where ground-breaking refers not just to some of the most important infrastructural projects in Africa, but also to our trail-blazing mobile money transfer technology.
The choice of Kenya for this honour is a sign too, of a continent on the rise. We are a hub for investment, commerce, trade, and tourism, yes, but we are an African hub, and our possibilities are matched by our region’s promise.
Equally, we all know that it is our young people, and their energy and innovation, as well as their culture of entrepreneurship, who are best able to turn promise into prosperity. We know, too, that talent and intelligence are widely spread, but that opportunity is not.
That’s why we have invested so much in our youth: we know that if we unleash their talent, then their energy will lift us all.
That’s the potency of entrepreneurship: its ability to elevate people’s lives in a way that honours their dignity. The founders and leaders of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, many of them American, understand this too. That is why they founded it five years ago. That is why they have taken the time to visit us.
In visiting us, they recognise the promise of Kenya, and also of the continent. Africa’s story is one of renewal and renaissance, not, as some would have it, of despair.
Time and again, we’ve proved our detractors wrong: half a century ago, few gave us much chance of escaping the bondage of empire. And yet, here we are, free to chart our own course.
What we have done in the past, we can do again. Our fathers won the political freedom of the continent. In this generation, we must win total economic freedom for our countries and peoples. The summit is a most substantial step on that journey.
Freedom does not, of course, preclude cooperation with friends and partners. Among the most important of these is the United States.
Even before independence, we enjoyed close ties. Down the years, those ties have only strengthened — and, as the example of President Obama shows, many are the ties, not just of friendship, but also of family.
Uhuru Kenyatta is the President of the Republic of Kenya