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Kenya woos American investors

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5 – Africa is now inviting American investors to put their money in the continent in order to assist it fully exploit the potential that the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) presents.

President Mwai Kibaki said on Wednesday that although the current global financial crisis has led to reduced investments, Americans should increasingly look at Africa where they have the opportunity to reap maximum returns.

“I am confident that those firms that invest now in spite of the current global economic downturn will reap enormous benefits when the world economy improves,” he told delegates attending the eighth AGOA forum in Nairobi.

Africa has suffered from negative perception as a continent that has been ravaged by poverty, insecurity, hunger and war and this image has always affected investments.

While observing that the countries eligible to benefit from the preferential treatment under AGOA have supply and demand constraints that hinder enhanced trade with the US, he pointed out that the forum offered an ideal occasion to look into ways of tackling these obstacles.

Also present at the three-day conference was US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton who said the continent has the chance to create its own revolution only if it utilised the enormous resources it has to unleash its potential.

She said these countries needn’t re-invent the wheel as most of the technologies and infrastructure were already at their disposal.

“Although Africa missed the first green revolution, it now has the opportunity to create its own. Technology and innovation make it possible for nations to bypass the dirty stages of development and become more quickly integrated,” she added.

She echoed President Barack Obama’s remarks that the future of Africa lies in its hands and it has to do everything in its power to get out the challenges that it’s facing.

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However, the Secretary also reaffirmed the US government’s commitment to assist African countries to achieve these goals which would in turn ensure socio-political and economic growth.

Despite the Kenya government’s comments that Africa does not need to be lectured on good governance, Mrs Clinton sought to drive the point on the need for transparency and accountability home as one way of enabling these countries to attain economic development.

“Creating a favourable investment climate requires countries to translate politics into governing,” she said.

She added that although elections for many are a yardstick of democracy, Africa needed to go beyond the ballot boxes and put in place (democratic institutions like independent Judiciary, free press and dedicated civil service and vibrant civil society).

Mrs Clinton invited the continent to learn a few lessons on America’s own history and apply them in their search for democracy and rule of law.

“We stand ready to serve as partners to citizens and leaders looking to improve governance and transparency,” she offered.

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