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Top US investors in Nairobi ahead of Obama’s visit

Some of the world’s leading investors are in the country for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be attended by US President Barack Obama later this month.

The investors have come as Nairobi prepares for the summit, the second time it will be hosted by a sub-Saharan African country.

The investors who have already jetted in are Sir Richard Branson, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of Virgin Atlantic, Ms Jacqueline Novogratz (founder and CEO of Acumen), Mr Chris Anderson (Curator, TED Conference), Mr Dipender Saluja of Capricorn Investments and Mr Steve Jurvetson of Draper Fisher Jurvetson).

Others are Ms Jean Oelwang, the CEO of Virgin Unite, Zia Khan of the Rockefeller Foundation and Mr Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and chairman of Econet Wireless.

EXPRESSING INTEREST

The government on Sunday said some of the businesspeople were eyeing Kenya’s green energy sector.

State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu said President Uhuru Kenyatta met the businesspeople last Saturday.

“Ahead of this summit, I am pleased to announce that a number of American and other investors are already in the country. They have expressed interest in investing in green energy, one of the fastest growing sub-sectors in Africa,” Mr Esipisu said to journalists at Harambee House.

Sir Branson is a prominent English businessman who founded the Virgin Group that comprises more than 400 companies.

Among his successful ventures is the Virgin Atlantic Airlines.

Ms Novogratz is an American businesswoman and founder of Acumen, a non-profit organisation that specialises in fighting poverty through entrepreneurship.

Mr Anderson is a British-American entrepreneur and founder of 3D Robotics, a drone manufacturing company.

PREFERRED DESTINATION

Mr Esipisu said their coming meant Kenya was still a preferred destination of foreign investors.

“The presence of these investors and their expression of interest in one of the government’s flagship projects is an indication of confidence in our country and our people,” Mr Esipisu said.

In an interview with the PSCU, Mr Masiyiwa said he was happy to be part of the investors in Kenya.

“I have always been comfortable about investing in Kenya and encouraging others to do so,” the Zimbabwean tycoon said.

President Obama and President Kenyatta will co-host the summit, to be held between July 22 and 24 in Nairobi.

“The investors who visited President Kenyatta yesterday have structured their proposals to meet our needs. We will work with them to help young Kenyans develop their interest and expertise in the energy sector,” Mr Esipisu added.