With H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, CCA hosted an exclusive high-level dialogue focused on how digital technology and collaborations would open new avenues for African economic development. Award winning journalist, Zain Verjee, Founder & CEO of the Zain Verjee Party, moderated the discussion.
H.E. during the discussion, President Kenyatta underlined the notable influence over the past 20 years of technology as an engine of development in Kenya. “Today, as we speak, almost 95% of all Kenyans have access to financial services because of digitization, technology, internet penetration, as opposed to less than 20 years ago when only 25% of the population had a bank account.”
In the optimism of President Kenyatta, Sundar Pichai, Google CEO and Alphabet expressed and highlighted Google’s dedication to helping governments, enterprises and job seekers in Kenya and across Africa. Google initiated a US$1 million grant last year in response to COVID-19 for Kenyan women financially impacted by the pandemic, a digital portal to help 300,000 Kenyan SMEs get online, and programs to help students learn remotely.
Looking to the future, President Kenyatta stressed the need for cooperation to transform technology’s facilitative position in Kenya into economic opportunity and development.
We want to work together, collaborating with Kenyan SMEs in the form of collaborations with American companies and American companies. This is where the real potential for growth exists so that the facilitative work we have done is actually now leapfrogged on by the opportunities provided by the connections we can build, through the work of, for example, the Corporate Council on Africa.
In describing what Google is doing to help companies in these tough times, Mr. Pichai revealed a new USD 10 million (Ksh1 Billion) fund to support Kenya’s economic recovery. “It is comprised of three things—US$2 million for local non-profits serving underserved communities in Kenya, US$3 million for small and medium-sized enterprises… and US$5 million to support technology start-ups to help them grow and develop.”
Ms. Liser concluded the discussion by reaffirming the dedication of CCA to fostering relations between Kenyan SMEs and U.S. markets. She noted that “CCA will continue to engage and support our member companies and U.S. and African public and private sector partners as we all work to drive economic recovery and develop solutions to promote investment and economic development in Africa,” in cooperation with the new Biden Administration.