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Kenyan President pitches Silicon Savannah investment to Silicon Valley

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Kenyan President William Ruto has invited American technology companies to set up manufacturing operations and regional offices in his country.

During a US-Kenya business roadshow in San Francisco, California last week Ruto met with several Silicon Valley tech CEOs to pitch Kenya's 'Silicon Savannah' as a prime investment destination for US-based tech companies.

"Kenya is a full package investment destination; economically stable, entrepreneurial, secure, innovative with a favourable tax environment, skilled labor force, technological expertise, green energy credentials and a gateway for six undersea fiber-optic cables providing reliable data connectivity," Ruto said in a statement.

"If you set up in Kenya. Your African footprint is guaranteed," he added in a thread on X, formerly known as Twitter.

According to Ruto, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company will consider setting up a developer's academy and will also tap into Kenya's green data center potential.

"We welcome the consideration by Apple, the world's most valuable multinational technology firm to work with the Government on the growth of Kenya's innovation and startup ecosystem," he continued on X.

"Kenya's green data center potential is one other area that Apple will look into tapping for achieving the company's sustainability goals," Ruto added.

Apple partners with M-Pesa

During the meeting with Apple, Ruto also announced a partnership between Kenyan operator Safaricom's mobile financial services platform, M-Pesa, and Apple which is expected to further enhance M-Pesa's global reach.

M-Pesa allows both banked and unbanked users to send and receive money, pay merchants, pay bills and buy airtime through the M-Pesa wallet.

"Safaricom is developing a partnership with Apple to integrate M-Pesa and its PayPal platform to extend M-Pesa's transactional reach globally," said Ruto.

Even though Safaricom already has M-Pesa Global, which was launched in 2018 as an expansion of the carrier's financial services to other countries, Ruto said this partnership is a new node in M-Pesa's global growth.

Moreover, the partnership between the two companies is set to create a broader ecosystem of services accessible to M-Pesa users.

Ruto meets other Silicon Valley executives

The Kenyan President also met with executives of Elon Musk's Starlink and said the company presents a promising solution for achieving universal Internet access by overcoming traditional infrastructure limitations.

Ruto urged Starlink to work on lowering the cost of Internet connection in Kenya, and across Africa.

Starlink launched in Kenya in July 2023, and is also available in Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and the French department islands of Reunion and Mayotte off the African coast.

Ruto met with Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger, whose company has established an AI Developer Lab at Kenya Technical Trainers' College.

Kenyan President William Ruto met with Silicon Valley executives including Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger to pitch his country as a prime investment destination for American tech companies.   (Source: The Official Website of the President of the Republic of Kenya).
Kenyan President William Ruto met with Silicon Valley executives including Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger to pitch his country as a prime investment destination for American tech companies.
(Source: The Official Website of the President of the Republic of Kenya).

Moreover, the Kenyan President also met with Microsoft executives and highlighted the tech giant's partnership with Mawingu which has enhanced access to wireless broadband for Kenyans in rural areas.

Mawingu is an Internet service provider that delivers rural Internet access via solar-plus-battery-powered radio towers and in May 2023, launched the first outdoor Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenWiFi network in Kenya.

Ruto also met Alphabet's CFO Ruth Porat and had talks with executives from clothing companies GAP, Nike and Levi Strauss.

"Kenya has plenty of opportunities to offer American technology and manufacturing companies, particularly its potential as a vital African base and prime center for tech, manufacturing, connectivity, infrastructure development and garment fabrication," Ruto added.

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*Top image is of Kenyan President William Ruto and Apple CEO Tim Cook. (Source: The Official Website of the President of the Republic of Kenya).

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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