By: PETE ONDENG
The just-concluded Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) did a lot more for Kenya than any paid marketing campaign could have done.
In two short days, the summit elevated Kenya and projected the image of a country on the move. Kenya emerged a brighter, more optimistic, and hopeful nation.
The highlight of the weekend was, of course, President Obama’s visit, whose climax was a memorable speech directed to the hearts and minds of Kenyans.
It was a powerful, prophetic declaration by the most powerful man in the world, a “Kenyan American” who has defied all logic to ascend to unimaginable heights of global influence.
Kenya virtually came to a standstill as millions paused to listen to a message of hope from a man whose own story of triumph over adversity has inspired millions of people around the world.
He called for an end to traditional practices, thought patterns, and antiquated beliefs that have been holding Africa back. He charged young people to dream big and to dare to live out their dreams.
He challenged Africa to remove its cloak of dependency on external handouts and embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that has transformed other regions of the world.
President Obama encouraged Kenyans to “choose the path to progress” by dealing with corruption, tribal conflict, terrorism, and socio-economic injustices, especially in regard to women.
As the dust settles on the summit and Kenyans shift their attention back to the daily drudge, the lingering question is: what next? Beyond the emotional words and inspiring rhetoric, what are some immediate opportunities that Kenya can seize to capitalise on the momentum generated by the GES?
Fortunately, the answer to that question is not far away. Over the next five months, Kenya will host two mega events that will certainly draw on the energy and goodwill that will have been left behind by President Obama and the GES.
The first will be the visit by Pope Francis, who has chosen Kenya to be his first stop during his maiden visit to Africa. The Pope’s visit is expected to promote peace and reconciliation in Kenya, which has recently been rocked by Al-Shabaab terrorist attacks.
A few weeks later, Kenya will host the 10th World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference. It will be the first time in its 20-year history that the WTO will be holding its bi-annual Ministerial Conference in Africa.
The conference is the top decision-making organ of the WTO. It brings together representatives of all its 163 member countries. The meeting, which takes place every two years, is a major event on the global calendar.
It is indeed a significant honour for Kenya to be chosen as the first country on the continent to ever host the high level meeting.
These high-profile events serve to not only strengthen Kenya’s profile and position in the world as a viable destination, they also provide an opportunity for Kenyans to project themselves further into the global arena.
There is no doubt that this is Kenya’s moment. To quote President Obama, “Kenya is on the move”. The fundamental challenge that Kenyans must face is to sustain the positive spirit of hope and faith in a brighter future and to say with meaning, “Yes, we can”.