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Harry C. Alford, NNPA Columnist
Published: 24 June 2011

This week has probably been the most productive week of my career. We are just in awe of what we have learned about here in Kenya. This nation is facing the future with progressive thought and a desire for greatness amongst its people. Kenya Vision 2030 is an economic development program that will jettison the people of Kenya into a middle class nation. During the next 20 years they plan to modernize the nation and create an environment that is friendly to education, high technology, environmental responsibility, high employment and productivity. Africa is starting to change for the better and Kenya is becoming the leader in this long overdue movement. To accomplish this mission they must hire an enormous amount of vendors – far more than they have capacity for right now. They must go out and recruit businesses to come in and help complete the task and that is where we, African American businesses, come in. Sure they could use the usual Chinese, Japanese, European, etc. businesses but they don't help build local capacity and offer training and employment with the local citizens. They come in, get the money and leave.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce is pledging to government officials that the businesses we recruit to help develop the nation will be obligated to train local workers and mentor perspective local entrepreneurs. In the end, Kenya will have a strong capacity amongst its people and that will guarantee a continuing bright future. We will begin to market the opportunities and build a network of African American businesses that are willing to put offices in Kenya and participate in the building of a new and better nation.

This nation is going to build many new freeways and open highways, including bridges, throughout its geography. There will be dams built and many reservoirs. A new oil pipeline will be built from newly formed South Sudan to a new deep water port along the Kenyan shoreline. New utility plants and alternative energy centers will be needed to support what is being built. There will actually be new cities built such as the technology center north of capital Nairobi. This new city alone will need 30,000 new homes, several schools, a hospital and industrial parks. In all, the nation is planning to build 300,000 new homes alone. This is going to require an enormous amount of business interaction. "For example, we are going to need all of the architects and engineers you have to offer", exclaimed Mugo Kibati, Director General of Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat to our visiting team. Mr. Kibati is a graduate of George Washington University (D.C.) and MIT (Boston).

What has brought this about? An evolution of good governance has emerged. The bright minds that have left the nation to become highly trained and educated in Europe and the United States are returning with the resolve to make their homeland great. Instead of a "brain drain" the nation is having a "brain gain." For the first time in history a constitution is being written and implemented. The rule of law will be in place and that makes things very business friendly. Corruption and ineptitude are seeing their last days. The world's banking environment is paying attention to this and investment potential is rising exponentially. Likewise, the whole region of East Africa – Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan – is starting to move forward with Kenya having a "jump start" and leading the way. The whole area will become a gigantic Trade Free Zone.

Thus, this historical opportunity has presented itself and we are going to take advantage of it. We will be assembling our first wave of interested African American businesses who are interested in learning more and evaluating the possibilities next month. During our 19thAnnual Convention - July 21 -23 in Miami, FL - we will be sponsoring a formal presentation and workshop given by Kenya Ambassador Alkaneh Odembo and various representatives of the Kenyan government (see our website). From there we will assemble those still interested and begin match making them with their counterparts in Kenya. We will begin convening trips to Kenya for face to face discussions and negotiations and, eventually, contract competition. Believe me, it is on!

What this does is open our entrepreneurs to a new and gigantic market void of racism and good 'ol boys games that we are always having to deal with in this nation. The skills we have learned and mastered can now be applied to a friendly atmosphere. Also, jobs, quality of life and a future for greatness is finally coming to our Motherland. I thank God for being here as it begins to happen and will do my best to contribute all I can.


Mr. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®.  Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

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