, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – Chris Kirubi is one of Kenya’s influential entrepreneurs in diverse sectors like the media, manufacturing, real estate and beverages among others.
The multi-billionaire investor is happy with the strides the nation and the African continent have achieved so far. His only major concern is the continuing negative publicity spread by the media, some politicians and a section of Non-Governmental Organisations.
And as Kenya welcomes the entire world to its territories for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Dr Kirubi is full of hope that the country’s image will change for good during and after the summit.
“Really the opportunity for this upcoming summit is to get the whole world to focus on Kenya,” Dr Kirubi says. “It’s never been done before except when we had disasters and things that don’t make investors pay attention to the country.”
True to his words, Kenya’s profile has of late been dominated by bad publicity following a wave of attacks by terrorists as well as the tribal clashes that followed the 2007 presidential elections.
But the upcoming summit is bound to change all the negative perceptions about the country while also proving that the country has come of age to be able to organise and host such a high profile conference as a further testimony that Kenya is on the leading role of all what investment opportunities in Africa is all about.
“My biggest expectation is that people can start talking about Kenya in bright terms… in creating opportunities for the young people not only in Kenya but the whole of Africa and also showcasing what we have will be very important,” Dr Kirubi explains.
While describing GES as a game changer for Kenya, Dr Kirubi is of the view that the government should come up with strategies on moving forward after the conference.
“What impetus, what energy has been created by this conference and what do we do to keep the momentum going.”
As one of Kenya’s biggest entrepreneurs in the media industry, Dr Kirubi’s appeal to the media is that this summit must come as the beginning to a change for them to stop focusing on negativities but on value adding topics that enhances food security and job creation.
“We cannot have a huge opportunity like this and the media remains negative,” he says.
Dr Kirubi is of the view that recent reports that Kenya is sliding back in terms of media freedom should be dismissed arguing that the Kenyan media is currently enjoying some of the best freedoms in the world.
“Where else in the world does the media have the freedom and opportunity they have here…why on earth when we have an opportunity to partner to bring this kind of development do they have to bring these kinds of reports?
He argues that the Kenyan media has enjoyed so much freedom to the extent they have abused some of it and taken the country backwards by just highlighting the negativities.
“If I was not part of the media, I would believe everything they say but I am inside the media, I have invested a fortune in the media because media is important to tell our story but when we lose our objectivity and become hired mercenaries of telling the negative story about us, then we are not on the same web page,” he says. “We need to use the media to help develop our motherland not always just putting ourselves down.”
The industrialist says journalists should always see themselves as part of the aspirations and part of the future of the nation. He argues that those journalists and media houses, which he terms as mercenaries for hire to derail development, should be exposed.
While maintaining that he lets his media outlets operate independently, there nevertheless should be some responsibility.
“I don’t restrict, I don’t direct the media, I would like them to use their common sense and brains to assist us develop the opportunities we have in Africa.
Dr Kirubi even threatens to scale down his investments in Kenya and Africa if the negative narrative does not change.
“I cannot go on investing in Africa, if the Africans themselves don’t believe in themselves…I will go and invest somewhere else but why should Africa be left to rot?
The entrepreneur also appeals to the non-governmental organizations operating in this country to change their attitude claiming some have always had an agenda of placing the image of the country on the back banner.
“They should really wake up and join the band-wagon of development because if we do not develop, we remain beggars and some of these people have institutionalised beggars to the rest of the world.”
The straight-talking Kirubi also has a word for Kenyan opposition leaders arguing that they should also show their value and support for ongoing effort to grow the economy.
“To be honest if the opposition cannot show their value to growing the economy and growing Africa in the best light and they want to drag us into mad and talk negative things, I think the wisdom of Kenyans will reject them and show that they don’t belong to the future, they belong to the past.
On insecurity, Dr Kirubi argues that recent insecurity incidents around the country cannot be translated to mean that Kenya is an isolated case adding that similar incidents also happen in other big cities like Paris in France, the United Kingdom and even the United States.
“When there was the bombing of the trade towers in the US, have people stopped going to the US? Everybody wants to go to the US.”
He adds that every country in the world has their own share of challenges including some countries that are plagued by natural disasters like earthquakes and other disasters. “In India, in Pakistan, in Malaysia, in Australia there are all these challenges.”
Other countries like Colombia and Brazil are fighting challenges of drugs. “There are challenges all over the world but people don’t keep talking about these challenges, they need to talk about the opportunities available in their own mother land.”