Silicon Savannah Comes to Silicon Valley

Today, the 23rd of May 2024, President William Ruto of Kenya, which is dubbed Silicon Savannah of Africais making an official state visit to the United States of Americathe home of Silicon Valley. It is the first official visit by a Kenyan President in the last two decades, facilitated by Ambassador Meg Whitman who used to be one of the
titans of Silicon Valley but is currently serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya
Last year, Whitman invited President Ruto to tour Silicon Valley as a precursor to today’s visit during which they made the case for tech investments in Kenya and Africa. Kenya leads the KINGS countries (Kenya, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa) who are pioneers of the digital economy in Africa. Chanzo Capital launched the KINGS fund to invest in these countries to create and expand the digital economy in Africa. 

Whitman is determined to be the ambassador who makes good on U.S. pledge that it is prioritizing business in Africa. This is because the U.S. has being paying lip service to expanding its business in Africa whilst China has taken the lead in doing business with. 

“I have come to Silicon Valley to underscore Kenyan government’s strategic intent to support through infrastructure and other investment, the enhancement of Kenya’s position as the epicenter of Africa’s innovation and technological transformation,” Ruto said last year. We would hear him today.

Whitman who is worth $3.4B according to Forbes, is best known for taking eBay from $5.7M to $8B in sales as CEO from 1998 to 2008. She subsequently became president and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. from 2011 to 2015 and oversaw it’s split into HP Inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). She stepped down as HPE’s CEO in 2018 and sat on the boards of Procter & Gamble and General Motors before becoming an ambassador in 2022.

According to Nii Simmonds, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s GeoTech Center, U.S. companies like Microsoft, Google and IBM are expanding rapidly into Africa making huge investments in infrastructure and innovation. Microsoft just announced a $1B investment into Kenya’s Digital Ecosystem. Simmonds reckons “The time is ripe for a new, bolder partnership between the U.S. and Africa. Biden and Ruto are right to call for a transition away from a relationship built on aid to one that fosters sustainable economic growth and increased trade, seeding the grounds both for a booming manufacturing sector in Africa and a clean energy revolution in the U.S. However, achieving this goal will require a deliberate strategy to entice U.S. multinationals to invest more in the continent”.

“The opportunities for greater U.S. investments should be obvious. By 2050, Kenya and other African countries will see a significant influx of young workers, offering U.S. manufacturers a valuable labor force, and that can often perform the same or superior quality work at a lower cost than what Chinese workers demand. With a population nearing 1.5 billion, projected to reach 2.5 billion, Africa will likely increase its share of global trade and manufacturing, too. This growth will create skilled jobs and increase purchasing power for goods and services, similar to developed economies, creating new markets for American-made goods”.

I agree with Simmonds that Africa has what the US needs and vice versa. With Whitman and President Ruto’s visit, Silicon Valley could forge a mutually beneficial relationship with Silicon Savannah.

Scroll to Top