- Obama plugged African economy at a business event in Nairobi
- Highlighted own connections to region, where he has dozens of relatives
- Hailed potential of African business to lift people out of poverty
- Obama has brought some 200 U.S. investors along to Kenya with him
- Thousands of people turned out waving U.S. flags to greet the President
- Has a huge Kenyan following – especially in his father’s village where schools and even children are named in his honor
Kieran Corcoran For Dailymail.com
09:04 EST, 25 July 2015
11:20 EST, 25 July 2015
President Barack Obama said his mission to encourage growth in Africa is a personal one while speaking at a business summit in Kenya designed to help supercharge the region’s economy.
Obama, whose father was Kenyan and has dozens of relatives in the country, hailed a ‘continent on the move’ which is lifting its citizens ‘out of poverty’ in a speech Saturday at a business event.
The President is trying to encourage investors to support African nations like Kenya, and has brought a contingent of more than 200 U.S. investors with him, whom he hopes will make commitments to the region.
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Big up: President Barack Obama made a speech plugging the African economy on Saturday in Nairobi, on the second day of his visit to Kenya, his father’s homeland
Learning: Obama visited displays by participants his his Power Africa initiative, which aims to increase access to electricity on the continent
His address to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, follows a family reunion last night where he met dozens of his relatives in an upscale city hotel.
He told his audience: ‘This is personal for me. There’s a reason why my name is Barack Hussein Obama. My father came from these parts.’
Talking up the region’s expanding economy, he said: ‘Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions of the world. People are being lifted out of poverty… What happens in Africa is going to affect the world.’
Q&A: The President took questions from entrepreneurs alongside his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta (second from right) at the event, held on UN property+
He later expanded on his ideas, saying new business in Africa can offer hope to young people in the continent, parts of which continue to be ravaged by war, famine and extremism.
He said: ‘Entrepreneurship offers a positive alternative to the ideologies of violence and division that can all too often fill the void when young people don’t see a future for themselves.’
Obama also spoke of his optimism for the country last night, posting a tweet from his personal account.
It said: ‘Proud to be the first American President to visit Kenya. Happy to see family, and to talk with young Kenyans about the future.’
Kenyans themselves have responded to the president with an enthusiasm which at least equals his.
Personal: Obama said that mission to expand Africa’s economic footprint and help its citizens is one close to his heart. He has dozens of relatives in Kenyan, many of whom he spent Friday night with
In his honor: A woman carrying a U.S.-branded bag poses in front of the sign for the Senator Obama Primary School in Kogelo, his father’s homeland
Obamania: Three boys, all named after Barack Obama, pose for a photograph at the Senator Obama Primary School
Learning: One of the boys, Barack Obama Okoth, shows his school workbook inside his classroom
Aspirational: Boys at the school, which also educates girls, said they were proud to go to an institution named after the President
Banners and billboards sporting the President’s face sprung up around Nairobi ahead of the visit, while thousands of eager fans waved American flags and painted their faces while getting as close as they could to the Presidential motorcade amid intense security.
In Kogelo, the hometown and place of burial of Barack Obama Snr, Obama has two schools named in his honor, dedicated when he was still an Illinois senator.
Kogelo locals named the Senator Obama Kogelo Primary School and Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School in his honor when he visited in 2006.
Since then the enthusiasm for the President, whom locals consider their native son, has surged, with many children being named for him.
Looking out: A huge crowd of Kenyans is pictured above waiting for the Presidential motorcade to pass by Nairobi’s Memorial Park
Obama fans: Wearing a tie emblazoned with the U.S. flag, one of the many Kenyans who turned out to catch a glimpse of Obama looks out over a crowd of fellow supporters
When the BBC visited the schools, two boys in a single class of eight-year-olds were called Barack Obama, while virtually an entire class of 60 in the high school said they wish they shared their named with the President.
In a bizarre twist, one girl even showed off a hairstyle said to be modeled on Obama, in which her hairline had seemingly been shaved back to mimic the aging President’s.
Obama also used his appearance at the business summit to announce more than $1billion in new commitments from the U.S. government, as well as American banks, foundations and philanthropists.
Packed: Thousands of Africans showed up to see the President – they are pictured above standing around an American flag in the Kibera slum just outside Nairobi
Looking round: Obama is pictured above meeting a worker for the M-Kopa solar power company in front of a company display
Half of the money will go to support women and young people, who Obama says face bigger obstacles when trying to start businesses.
‘If half of your team is not playing, you’ve got a problem,’ Obama said, referring to women excluded from the formal economy.
Obama hosted the inaugural entrepreneurship summit at the White House in 2010. This year’s conference is the first to be held in sub-Saharan Africa.
Traditional” Maasai community members in African dress wave the Stars and Stripes as they wait for Obama’s convoy
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who co-hosted the summit, said that he hoped Obama’s visit would help change his nation’s image, which has been tainted by security issues – most notably a 2013 terrorist attack by Al-Shabaab militants on an upscale mall in Nairobi.
Kenyatta said: ‘Africa is the world’s newest and most promising frontier of limitless opportunity. Gone are the days when the only lens to view our continent was one of despair and indignity.’
While in Nairobi, Obama toured an innovation fair highlighting the work of vendors working with his Power Africa initiative, which aims to double sub-Saharan access to electricity.
Official engagement: Obama is pictured above inspecting an honor guard ahead of an official meeting with Kenya’s president
Close up: Soldiers wielding swords stand near Obama as he looks over the dozens of soldiers
The President also visited a memorial at the site of the 1998 bombing of the city’s U.S. embassy, which killed more than 200 people.
He laid a wreath and bowed his head in front of the site, looking over the names over the 200 Kenyans and 12 Americans who died in the attack.
Obama arrived in Kenya late Friday and spent the night reuniting with his father’s family. Security was tight in the Kenyan capital, with some of the city’s normally bustling streets closed to traffic and pedestrians during his visit.
Memorial: Obama also visited the site of a the 1998 bombing at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, which killed more than 200 people
Respectful: Obama laid a wreath in front of the monument, which commemorates the 200 Kenyans and 12 Americans who died in the attack