, TAORMINA, Italy, May 27 – It was a historic address and President Uhuru Kenyatta took the momentous occasion to make a compelling case for Africa, as leaders attending the G7 Summit in Sicily, Italy Saturday listened attentively.
President Kenyatta told the summit that the G7 must step up its engagement with Africa to lift economic growth and fight terrorism.
He said Africa was the world’s new frontier for trade and investment, with current indicators showing that the continent would portend business opportunities worth $5.6 trillion by 2025.
“A freer, more prosperous Africa is a more secure Africa. A freer, more prosperous Africa is a vital partner in solving some of the world’s most pressing problems: poverty, immigration, climate change, and terrorism. This, is the time to put Africa’s aspirations at the heart of your plans,” he said.
He told the gathering that there was a rising tide across the continent bringing with it new national and transnational infrastructure; a better-educated labour force, a youthful, dynamic population – a diffusion of technology and, most important, the true democratization of the continent.
“That’s why our returns on investment are some of the highest in the world, and that’s why members of the G7 will find, as others have found, that African markets are well worth their interest.”
He urged the G7 to seize the opportunities that exist, saying the rewards are beyond calculation.
He made reference to the continent’s transformation – and that of Kenya specifically in innovation.
He said Africa has put Information Communication Technology (ICT) at the center of its development agenda.
“Kenya is a celebrated pioneer in ICT innovation in Africa. We have seen for ourselves the transformative power of innovation, as the Internet and mobile telephony have diffused power to networks and individuals.”
He gave examples of M-Farm, a mobile platform for farmers – where with the touch of a button – they find prevalent prices for their produce.
Ushahidi on the other hand, he disclosed, is a groundbreaking interactive mapping tool used across the world to crowd-source information in elections and emergencies.
“And then, of course, there is M-PESA, the mobile money platform that has brought financial access to millions who were left out of the traditional banking sector. These days, nine in every 10 Kenyans access financial services through it.”
He said these innovations, and others, had seen Kenya become more dynamic and resilient. “They have made Kenya more investor-friendly; and they have made Kenya the hub of East and Central Africa.”
But despite the great achievements, President Kenyatta said, Africa and indeed the world faced an ever-increasing threat of terrorism.
“Terror presents a common threat. It demands a common response. Together, we can meet that threat. Indeed, we in Kenya, in partnership with many of you, have encouraging results to report. We have stopped attacks; we have unravelled terror cells; we have shared intelligence; we have saved lives.”
He said in essence, only free peoples in control of their destiny can win an enduring victory over the nihilism of the terrorists.