Sunday, April 19, 2009



April 18 2009

Nairobi conference presents US President with chance to make his first trip to Africa

United States President Barack Obama could visit Kenya as early as August this year to attend the Eighth forum of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa).

The Sunday Nation has learnt that Mr Obama may use the Agoa conference to make his first trip to the African continent since he was elected US President.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said Mr Obama could also visit the country during the 9th Leon H. Sullivan Summit scheduled to be held in July 2010.

The summit is to be attended by an estimated 1,500 African-American businessmen.

In an interview with the Sunday Nation, Mr Thuita Mwangi, the Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, said President Kibaki would invite President Obama to attend both conferences.

The Agoa conference is scheduled to take place from August 4-8 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi. Kenya was handed chairmanship of the Agoa African consultative group of ministers last August.

Agoa is a United States Trade Act that significantly enhances access to US markets for 39 sub-Saharan African countries. The last conference was held in Washington in August last year.

The Leon H. Sullivan Summit meeting was initially scheduled to be held in Rwanda but has been moved to Nairobi as it coincided with other national activities in the tiny Eastern Africa country.

Mr Mwangi said Kenya had in principle agreed to host the conference from July 19-23.

The last meeting was held in Arusha, Tanzania, last year and was attended by former President George W. Bush.

The Sullivan Foundation enables the host country to get direct investment opportunities and establish links with businesses in the US and Europe.

Participants at the 2010 summit are expected to discuss investment opportunities in agriculture, tourism, energy, education, science and technology as well as infrastructure.

President Obama, whose father was Kenyan, was in Europe last month for the G20 conference. He was also in Mexico early last week.