|US President Barack Obama at the town hall meeting in Soweto Township in South Africa|
By FREDRICK OBURA
NAIROBI, KENYA: President Barack Obama on Saturday said impending cases facing Kenya's top leadership at the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a factor he probably did not visit Kenya in his Africa tour.
He however said he has another three and a half years in office and might visit the country still as President of America.
“It is commendable that Kenyans had a peaceful elections that did not result in any violence as witnessed in 2007, it is not the best time for me as president of America to visit Kenya though, Kenya’s administration still has issues to manage with the International Community," he said.
"But I still have some three and a half years in the office and might visit the country, I have special attachment to Kenya as you all know my family has roots there," he said.
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Explaining why he settled on Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania in his second visit to Africa, Obama said US had initiated projects in countries such as South Africa which called for close monitoring. This is the second trip Obama is making to South Africa as President of United States of America.
Responding to satellite questions from Kenyans in Nairobi on any foreign policy shift from his adminstration following Kenya's growing close trade ties with China and other countries from the East. Obama said Kenya was free to trade with anybody provided the relationship was symbiotic.
“I want to clarify that my visit is not related to China growing influence in Africa, Kenya like the rest of other African countries is the next big thing and everybody is encouraged to invest in there but any kind of trade should not be one sided,” he said in Soweto on Saturday.
"If somebdy is coming to construct roads in Africa, let Africans benefit in terms of offering labour and etc, we dont want to see Africa just as the producer of raw materials yet somebody is pocketing the money," he said.
He said his administration was committed to empowering youth and small business to create job opportunities in the continent. “We are committed to uplifting small businesses, and I am hopeful that incentives such as the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will be renewed upon expiry to enable Africa easily trade with the US,” he said.
AGOA provides reforming African countries with the most liberal access to the lucrative US market, an offer that is available to countries or region with which the United States does not have a Free Trade Agreement.
Under the Act, tangible incentives are offered to encourage African countries open their economies.
"I know the act is expiring in 2015 but I am hopeful of renewal to enable businesses in the Sub-saharan Africa easily access markets in America," he said.
The US President is expected in Capetown on Sunday where he will address another audience on 'future we can build' at the University of Capetown.
He will round up his Africa tour in Tanzania, a neigbouring country with Kenya where traces his family roots.