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Leverage Kenya’s rich history to attract investors and tourists

When asked to breakdown his investment strategy, Warren Buffet was asked specifically about how he times his investments. His response was direct and succinct — invest when you have money. With the global economy on a ‘broad-based and stable’ recovery from the financial crisis, there is certainly more cash for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Africa, if only we behave ourselves… politically that is.

In support of the turning tide of FDI into Kenya, which saw a 60 percent drop in capital investments in 2016, the countries communicators should put peddle to the metal in order to drive up our numbers to pass Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa, and South Africa and Nigeria on the continent.

The silver lining of the Supreme Court ruling nullifying the recent elections was twofold. Not only did it bring our nation into the global headlines and social media trends, but it also proved to potential investors that there is rule of law, a major factor when targeting investment destinations. It is the perfect storm as it organically yields the kind of positive visibility that spin doctors can only dream of.

There are 30 days to go before the October 17th elections and it is in our interest to prove our political maturity and keep our eyes on the prize — the long term prize. Please reserve your temper tantrums to social media only and not the streets! Not all publicity is good publicity after all.

We’ve been hitting global headlines since before independence with the Lunatic Express railroad project that the Brits concluded in 1901, the notorious Happy Valley debauchery of the 1930s, and the vicious Mau Mau response to the colonial brutality in the 1950s. More recently our star shone when Wangari Mathai became the first African woman to be awarded the Noble Peace Prize, and Lupita Nyongo became the first African to win an Academy Award.

In order to give the next generation a sense of perspective it is very important to capture those moments in history that have defined our times.

In a recent visit to the city of Darwin in Australia I was amazed at how, in the course of time, two momentous events have shaped its history and are firmly captured within its tourism circuit. These are the Japanese air raids during World War II and Cyclone Tracy in 1974 which turned the city into a parking lot.

The stories are told severally at various locations including The Defense of Darwin Experience in The Darwin Military Museum, and the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. It is with this and other tourist facilities that Darwin attracted 1.58 million tourists in 2005 who stayed for 9.2 million nights and spent over US$1.5 billion.

On the other hand, Kenya as a whole attracted 877,602 tourists in 2015 who spent US$ 825 million, which has been declining for 10 years straight for various reasons. Some would say that we need to come up with new ideas, but after my recent trip, I think we have lots of room for old ideas, like a series of museums, facilities and exhibitions that recreate the Mau Mau experience as a fundamental part of our history.

We have a wonderful opportunity to tell the story to the world from our own perspective, because as they say, history is written by the victors.

 

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