Ruto Meets WorldCoin Billionaire Sam Altman in US

Ruto in US
A photo collage of Open AI CEO Sam Altman (Left) and President William Ruto (Right).

President William Ruto met Sam Altman, the Chief Executive Officer of WorldCoin, during his investment tour of the United States

A clip shared by Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa showed that the President met Altman in San Francisco, California on Friday, September 15, during the Kenya-US Business Roadshow organised by the U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa initiative and the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

WorldCoin came under fire in August after scanning irises of Kenyans in exchange for a token of Ksh7,000.

Members of the Kenyan Parliament opened into a probe into the global company after investigations showed that the company operated in Kenya illegally while the data was collected for questionable purposes.

A photo collage of Kenyans lined up at KICC (left) to register for WorldCoin and a retina scanner used for the registration exercise.
A photo collage of Kenyans lined up at KICC (left) to register for Worldcoin and an Orb that was used for the registration exercise.
Seth Olale / WorldCoin

While the Head of State is yet to reveal the agenda of their discussion, Kenyans have raised questions regarding the meeting which they argued could lead to the return of WorldCoin into Kenya.

Ruto San Francisco Tour

During the tour, Ruto praised Kenya's potential of developing great technologies, especially, in partnership with American companies including Apple, Google, Meta, and WorldCoin.

"Kenya has plenty of opportunities to offer American technology and manufacturing companies, particularly its potential as a vital African base and prime centre for tech, manufacturing, connectivity, infrastructure development and garment fabrication.

"Our strong pool of innovative, skilled and energetic workforce is able and ready to power the expansion of these companies across the African continent," he stated during the meeting with technology executives.

WorldCoin Challenges

Locally, WorldCoin is facing legal challenges after it emerged that the company had been operating in the country illegally, and harvesting data without proper approvals.

The Ministry of ICT, which was caught flatfooted by the activities of WorldCoin, told Parliamentarians on Monday, September 11, that the company had struck partnerships with local businesses to collect data illegally.

A multi-agency team that was formed to probe the company's activities in the country recommended a one-year suspension of its operations and a freeze of the company's assets.

Consequently, Data Commissioner Immaculate Kassait recommended that the company's data collection tools be subjected to forensic analysis in the specified conditions.

“The company will be allowed to operate once it allows for a security audit, allows the government access to the data, registers with the Business Registration Services (BRS) as well as establishes a local representative,” Kassait stated.

In California, Ruto led a roadshow that highlighted the business and investment potential in Kenya’s booming tech sector. The Head of State is seeking partnerships with US companies including Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Kyosk, SunCulture, and more.

The event, held at the Mission Bay Conference Center, was part of a three-city US-Kenya Roadshow tour showcasing opportunities for companies exploring doing business and investing in Kenya. 

“Nairobi also has a vibrant technology community known as the Silicon Savannah and the Kenyan government is committed to establishing Nairobi as the premier destination for tech sector investment and innovation in Africa,” U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman noted. 

“These are many of the reasons why global businesses are considering, or should consider, Africa – and specifically Kenya – for trade and investment opportunities.”

Whitman explained that the technology ecosystem in Kenya is already thriving, with one of the highest rates of venture capital investment on the continent. 

Ruto in US
President William Ruto meeting American tech Chief Executive Officers on Friday, September 16, 2023.
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