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Firms pump billions worth of business deals as Obama Summit kicks off

NEWS
By Frankline Sunday | July 25th 2015

Kenya is anticipating billions of shillings worth of investments as the sixth edition of the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) kicks off today at the UN Complex in Gigiri.

Yesterday, representatives from several US multinationals confirmed that they will be making major announcements in the course of the two-day summit that brings together thousands of entrepreneurs and investors.

The list includes US global financial service providers JPMorgan, Chase Bank, Citibank and General Electric. Global soft drinks maker Coca-Cola is also expected to make an announcement as well as transport start-up Uber.

US conglomerate General Electric sent out invites for an event where it will announce what it said is a ‘major new infrastructure project in Kenya’ in partnership with the Kenyan government. The company is also set to announce a deal with the US government for an initiative to develop new power solutions in sub-Saharan Africa.

General Electric, a technology and financial services company recently launched a project to pump $2 billion (Sh200 billion) worth of investments across sub-Saharan Africa.

The company announced that it will launch the GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute in Kenya, that will cost $13 million (Sh1.3 billion) over the next 10 years. It has also announced a multi-million dollar partnership with Seven Seas Technologies and two local universities to develop a manufacturing ecosystem and build skills in Kenya. Dubbed GE Garages manufacturing programme, GE Africa will work with another private firm Gearbox, in building a skilled workforce and drive entrepreneurial development in Kenya.

Commercial viability

US technology giant Microsoft yesterday announced a deal with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the US Government to begin financing discussions with Mawingu Networks, a provider of solar-powered wireless Internet across rural Kenya.

If it goes through, Mawingu Networks will receive up to $4 million (Sh400 million) to scale up its project across the country.

Mawingu Networks utilises a network of solar-powered ‘nomadic’ wireless internet stations to provide last-mile connectivity access to areas that cannot economically access the Internet. The project utilises idle bands of television spectrum known as white spaces and has been hailed as a viable solution to access gaps across sub-Saharan Africa.

"The last mile is often hard to reach and we find this partnership really exiting and hopefully replicable in other countries through out the region," said OPIC’s President and CEO, Ms Elizabeth Littlefield.

 "Our mandate is to help catalyse private sector development and Kenya has been a leader in innovations particularly in the field of technology enabled development."

According to Microsoft’s Head of Legal and Corporate Affairs for the Middle East and Africa, Antony Cook, the investment is expected to help Mawingu increase its operations and reach more under-served areas.

"We are currently serving 20,000 people in Kenya through this project and from a Microsoft perspective these."

US President Barack Obama and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta are expected to officially open the two day summit today.

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