Obama has come and Obama has gone. The Euphoria and excitement is slowly dying down. Kenya is gradually resuming normalcy. The streets are busy again. The roads thick in traffic. And our problems, just as they were before the POTUS grand visit, are here with us.
All except for one thing, the reawakening of imagination amongst the Kenyan youth has been immense. Along the streets of the varsities, many talking, eating, drinking and walking entrepreneurship. Yet many more have just as well forgotten the yesterday. Today, we are talking about the millions of shillings unaccounted for by the various governmental departments. Today, we are keen on the great losses posted by our national carrier and indeed the “pride of Africa” Kenya Airways. That is typical of any nation with a myriad of problems to grapple with!
A day after President Obamas powerful speech at the Kasarani, a friend of mine posted that it is up to the Kenyans in attendance at the Pre-GES, GES and at the Stadium to spearhead the Nation’s entrepreneurship agenda. Yet my opinion is that there is no guarantee in this. The nation that watched, keenly followed, and internalized the powerful messages presented have a larger stake. The youth of this country may not have needed Obama to realize that innovation and entrepreneurship greatly stimulates development. Yet the Global Entrepreneurship Summit provided a greater impetus to this message. It provided a platform on which the rallying call was effectively delivered. And the mouthpiece of this necessary reality check was conveniently the son of the Kenyan soil! How convenient!
It is now 5 days since the summit. Since Universities sent their products to listen to the leader of the free world. Since the members of parliament humbled themselves before the ‘god’ of the moment and clapped furiously when the fight against ‘corruption’, ‘negative ethnicity’,’gender equality’ and ‘retrogressive cultural practices’ was reiterated. Since the youth of Kenya looked in them and around them and saw of themselves the images of accomplishment through innovations. All this may just be that- imaginations.
National Government still has to play it’s role in streamlining the field to be viable enough for budding entrepreneurs. This begins with offering protection to Keroche Industries against persons with vested interests in their downfall. Promotion of incubation hubs through the county governments and Universities may also go a long way into nurturing the innovative minds from the onset. Priority should be given in further developing the road networks to enable access to the interior parts of this country where there is so much that remains untapped. A fair ground for competition is only realized where there is adequate resources.
More focus should be given to the Science Contest symposiums at the high school levels and worthy projects brought to the limelight, improved and funded. The Universities should be pressed further to focus not just on the academic achievement of their students but also in encouraging innovations in science and technology and showcasing such developments. My fellow students in the Engineering and ICT fields may not have the vision to and aggression to follow through with their great ideas. Yet it may need the keen eye of another to make you see just how bright you glow!
Finally, not all of us will become entrepreneurs. Some of us are good at making the ideas of others succeed. Through the mobilization of resources or hands-on implementation, we may be the foot-soldiers that see our nation’s ideas give back to its citizens. There is no need to panic if you are not the innovator or entrepreneur. We all have a role to play in our society. Maybe yours is just to lead the team. Or follow the lead. Be good at it. Ensure it gives returns.
Obama may not have ever been an entrepreneur himself. Yet he very well befits the role of the mobilizer! We need some of us to inform us when we go wrong. To pressurize us to get back on track. To be the consumers of the products and ideas generated. We need to dialog among ourselves and realize that above all, African problems require African solutions.