Last summer, the United States paved new pathways for our 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 earlier 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 this summer – 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.
Grant Harris serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs on the National Security Council. Shannon Green is the Senior Director for Global Engagement of the National Security Council.