Barack Obama has heralded Africa as a continent “on the move” at the opening of a US-sponsored business summit in the capital of Kenya, the African nation to which he has deep family ties.

“Africa is one of the fastest growing regions of the world,” the US president said in Nairobi. “People are being lifted out of poverty.”

Obama’s visit to Kenya – thObamae first by a sitting US leader – has been keenly anticipated in a country that views him as a son. The president’s late father was born in Kenya and many family members still live here, including his elderly step-grandmother.

“This is personal for me,” Obama said. “There’s a reason why my name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

Much of the president’s visit is focused on boosting business and security ties with Kenya and nearly two dozen US politicians and 200 American investors have joined the president on his trip.

Barack Obama tells an exuberant crowd that Africa is a continent ‘on the move’- President Uhuru Kenyatta even joined in during a speech at the summit. To laughter and applause he told attendees they would find Kenya to be “a hotbed of vibrant culture, spectacular natural beauty, and a wonderful people with infinite possibility”. His speech to the people of Kenya was inspiring and hard hitting. A 40 minute address without notes – genuine and heartfelt!

In a message on Twitter, Obama wrote: “Proud to be the first American President to visit Kenya. Happy to see family, and to talk with young Kenyans about the future.”

Obama arrived in Nairobi late on Friday and spent the evening reuniting with his father’s family. Security was tight in the Kenyan capital, with some of the city’s normally bustling streets closed to traffic and pedestrians.

US and Kenyan flags lined the main road from the airport and billboards bearing Obama’s picture dotted the city.

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