Africa’s true potential is its young people, President Kenyatta tells French entrepreneurs

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French President Emmanuel Macron with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta
French President Emmanuel Macron (left) with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi. PHOTO/COURTESY:

President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated that Africa’s biggest asset is the potential held by its youthful population and not its natural resources.

The President spoke Thursday when he delivered the keynote speech at the 6th BPIfrance Inno Generation business forum at Accor Arena in Paris, France. He was the chief guest at the conference which is the largest annual congregation of French entrepreneurs and innovators.

“I tell people all the time, we look at the African continent sometimes from a perspective of its natural wealth. The gold, the diamonds, the oil, the gas but what we tend not to see is Africa’s true potential. The true African potential is our young men and women, and their capacity to participate with you to build a greater and better world for all of us,” President Kenyatta said.

In a riveting off-the-cuff address, President Kenyatta spoke about investment opportunities available to French entrepreneurs on the African continent.

While highlighting challenges limiting African investment potential, the President noted that despite being seen as a current challenge, the continent’s bulging youthful population was indeed an opportunity.

He said it was a lack of opportunities on the continent that was turning Africa’s young people into a problem for Europe and the rest of the world through desperate attempts at finding livelihoods such as illegal migration.

On investment opportunities in Kenya and Africa, President Kenyatta singled out technology, infrastructure, and manufacturing as the top three sectors with the highest potential for French investors.

According to President Kenyatta, the African continent has a huge deficit of connective projects, especially in the railway and road sectors. President Kenyatta added that the signing of a public-private partnership agreement worth 1.3 billion Euros for the construction of the Nairobi-Nakuru-Mau Summit Highway in Kenya, was a testament of the huge potential available for the French private sector to participate in Africa’s infrastructure development.

The French President Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, said his reason for inviting President Kenyatta to grace France’s biggest gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators was to provide a platform for Kenya and French business people to explore available investment opportunities in each other’s countries for the mutual benefit of the citizens of the two republics.

“I wanted Mr. President (Kenyatta) to come and see French entrepreneurs, SME, and to have an open discussion because I do believe it is extremely important both for France and Kenya to have a better knowledge of each other. And to see all the opportunities you can find in this country and how French companies can bring something to your country, provide our solutions, our innovations, our entrepreneurship, and be part of your success,” President Macron said.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is currently in France on an official visit. His entourage includes Cabinet Secretaries Raychelle Omamo (Foreign Affairs), James Macharia (Infrastructure), Ukur Yatani (National Treasury), and Betty Maina (Trade).

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