The President who addressed a business summit at KICC last evening, ahead of Monday's official opening of this year's ACP summit said the bloc's member nations are endowed with immense resources which if properly exploited would help hasten the attainment of their development targets.
He cited the bloc's population of over 1 billion people, who are largely the youth under the age of 35, as the engine that can drive industrial revolution of the countries economies if equipped with the right skills.
“Given the right skills training and opportunities, this large reservoir of young people will become the engine that drives the transformation we seek as a group as well as individual countries,” the President noted.
President Kenyatta cited human resource, agricultural industrialization, entrepreneurship and the growth of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME's) as well as improved regulatory and institutional frameworks as areas that ACP nations need to focus on in order to grow their economies.
Other areas identified by the Kenyan leader include the creation of an environment that supports innovation and technology transfer, and that which promotes private sector led industrial development.
The Kenyan leader told the ACP member states to offer an enabling environment for entrepreneurship to thrive especially and the growth of MSME's.
“To successfully grow MSMEs, members of vulnerable and economically disadvantaged groups need finance, business skills training and markets; without which most of them fail in the first three years,” the President said.
President Kenyatta also called for the removal of bottlenecks that choke enterprises by strengthening regulatory and institutional frameworks so as to enhance ease of doing business in ACP member nations.
“As governments, we need to continuously improve the ease-of-doing-business in order to remove supply-side constraints and increase competitiveness, transparency and efficiency,” President Kenyatta said.
Speaking at the business forum, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottely called on ACP member countries to tap into the potential of local investments by managing migration and creating a strong sense of local ownership.
The PM gave the example of Kenya's Equity Bank saying the financial institution has created employment and investment opportunities in Kenya where "international banks have not been able to fully respond to local market needs".
Namibian President Hage Geingob and Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for a total war on corruption saying graft was a big impediment in the economic take off of ACP countries.
PM Holness challenged ACP nations to encourage more people-to-people engagements so as to create linkages and an atmosphere of trust needed to spur trade and cross-border investments.
To diversify trade, Seychelles President Danny Faure urged ACP nations to invest more in both local and international blue saying his government recently set up the Blue Economy Council to optimize the utilization of ocean resources for economic development.
Tony Elumelu, the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa who is also the founder of the largest philanthropic organization in Africa, said he is committed to the cause of the African youth noting that his Elumelu Foundation has so far trained 7,500 youth entrepreneurs across Africa.
Mr Elumelu gave an example of a young Kenyan by the name Peter Kikumbi who he said benefitted from the entrepreneurship training and is now engaged in an ambitious medical research to develop a contraceptive for preventing HIV infections.