US-Africa summit: Kids welcome, Mugabe not

2014-08-06 10:52

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Ninety-year-old Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was not invited to attend a United States-hosted summit for African leaders in Washington DC, but one of his much younger compatriots was given prime-time treatment by the US president.

Twenty-one-year old Takunda Chingonzoh, who owns a business that works in wireless services and who describes himself as a social entrepreneur, was given the opportunity yesterday to grill President Barack Obama about business opportunities for young people.

Chingonzoh is part of Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative and has been in the US for training programmes that took place over the past few weeks.

Chingonzoh, who was so keen to start with the questions that he almost forgot to introduce himself, asked Obama what young Zimbabweans could do to advance their businesses despite the sanctions against the country.

Obama said it was important for the US to balance its desire to help Zimbabweans against what was a violation of human rights by the government.

He suggested that the young man speak to the US department of commerce.

Chingonzoh also wanted to know what to do when “disruptive” young entrepreneurs were prevented from developing by established businesses.

Obama said this was a universal problem.

Chingonzoh also raised concerns about governments wanting to control access to the internet, and what was published on the medium.

Obama said the internet should be monitored for terrorist networks and criminal activity, but this should still be compatible with free speech.

“Controls on the internet will inhibit entrepreneurship and also eventually the growth of the country. It will remain locked in the past,” Obama said.

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