Yesterday, American multinational TV network CNN controversially described Kenya as a“hotbed of terror” in its report on President Obama’s expected visit in the weekend. The label drew the ire of Kenyans who used the Twitter hashtag #SomeonetellCNN to condemn the network’s negative labelling of their homeland. By the evening of yesterday over 150 thousand tweets had been sent with the hashtag. Not only was the CNN’s description of Kenya negative, it was also not true. So here are five descriptions of Kenya which are not just been positive, but also, hundred percent correct.
Kenya is a hotbed of entrepreneurship
The fact that this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES2015) is holding in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, is enough proof for this label. One of President Barack Obama’s first acts in the country will be to open the summit, which will have nearly 2000 business leaders from across the globe in attendance, underscoring the entrepreneurial pull of the East African economic giant. Kenyan youths are more budding entrepreneurs and innovators than terror conscripts, the main reason one of the world’s leading conglomerate, GE, has chosen to locate its GE Garages in the country. The Garages is a skills building program started by GE to spur youths interested in innovation and invention, and Nairobi is the second African city to be chosen, after Lagos last year.
Kenya is the hotbed of Innovation and Technology
Two words are sufficient proof of this; Mobile money. Kenya has made mobile money one of the most sought after innovations in the developing world. The success of platforms such as M-pesa, Zap and yuCash have revolutionised how the world sees mobile phone and micro-financing services. Just in case there is need for more proof, a trip to iHub in Nairobi takes care of that. The Nairobi innovation hub has been a catalyst for the country’s ICT boom, a feat it has achieved by connecting technologists, innovators and investors. One of the iHub’s incubation success stories is Gearbox, a non-profit, open platform for hardware innovation that brings together inventors and innovators from diverse backgrounds to prototype and build their projects using shared engineering equipments. Gearbox was recently announced as the partner of GE for its Nairobi GEGarrages program. Bottomline; from agriculture, where Su Kahumbu’s iCow app is helping local farmers better monitor their cattle, to social activism- where Juliana Rotich’s Ushahidi has helped crowdsource critical information during several of the world’s crisis, all of Kenya is breathing innovation, not terror.
Kenya has one of Africa’s fastest growing middle class
What is hot in Kenya are the business opportunities being enabled by the burgeoning middle class, not the activities of terrorists.
Kenya’s middle class is currently growing at the rate of 5 percent, three percentage points higher than the sub-Saharan Africa’s average. With the continuous expansion of its middle class, the 44 million strong country is marching to its ambition of becoming a middle-income nation by 2030. The increase in middle class population, which now stands at about 50 percent, have meant an increase in people with greater purchasing power, the reason several foreign investors are thronging to Kenya. Shopping malls are thriving, the real estate is booming, so too the auto-mobile industry, while the tourism sector in reviving. Al-Shabaab terrorists have tried to stifle this growth, but the reopening of the Westgate mall is a clear evidence that they have failed.
Kenya is the hotbed of commerce in East Africa
Another use of hotbed, and another correct usage. Nairobi isn’t just Kenya’s capital city, it is the commercial nerve centre of East Africa. With a developed financial sector, one of Africa’s largest securities exchanges and a major exporter in the region, most foreign businesses with the region go through Kenya. The country also has well developed trade routes eased by the work of the East African Community (EAC), arguably Africa’s most successful economic bloc. There is also the port of Mombasa, through which more than half of East African cargo pass. Its strategic location also comes as a plus for the country as it is within reach of the region’s over 150 million people. This means that most people, like America’s President Obama, go to Kenya to conduct business, not terrorism.
Kenya is the hotbed of energy in Africa
Biogas, hydropower, solar power, wind power, Geothermal, fossil fuel and coal; Kenya is pursuing virtually every form of energy available to it. The recent discovery of oil and gas reserves has boosted the country’s energy resources, and brought in more investors to the country. Renewable energy investors are also keen for Kenya given the country’s high prospects in solar, wind and geothermal energy. The patronage of Solar Photovaic (PV) systems is fast growing; an estimated 200,000 rural households have solar home systems, while annual PV sales range are between 25,000-30,000 PV modules. Alongside the rising solar power contribution is a geothermal potential to generate up to 6,000 megawatts in Kenya, prospects that have investors flocking to the sector. It is no surprise then that industry analysts such as Ernst & Young’s (EY) Global Cleantech have named Kenya among countries to watch in the next decade– for energy developments, not terror activities.