"Obama has a responsibility to accomplish a great deal," said Sachs in Nairobi the day before Obama's inauguration, "not because of his African heritage, but because the U.S. has not been fulfilling its responsibilities in this part of the world."
African leaders, such as Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, have said they believe an Obama presidency will be friendlier to African countries regarding aid and trade policies than the previous administration.
But with the U.S. economy in near-collapse, two wars in play, and tensions in both the Middle East and Southeast Asia at a boiling point, Spio-Gabrah predicts that, for at least the first year of Obama's term, Africa may actually fare less well than it did under Bush.
"You're likely to see some flat-lining of Bush's budget because Obama will be constrained by economic problems at home," Spio-Gabrah said. "The expectations of Africans of what Obama will mean to them is higher than what he can deliver."
Nevertheless, many Africans say Obama's election alone has more than met their expectations and inspired hope.
In Kogelo, Kenya, the small village in Western Kenya where Obama's father hails from, a school was renamed the Senator Obama Kogelo Secondary School after Obama was elected to the Senate in 2006, and it is now in the process of being renamed to reflect Obama's presidential status.
Collins Ochieng, a senior at the school, said when he graduates this year he hopes to go on to college and eventually become a lawyer. Despite being poor and without the resources most Western schools enjoy, Ochieng looks to Obama's success for inspiration.
"His example teaches us that we shouldn't feel that we cannot do," said Ochieng. "He was advocating to us that, 'Yes, we can,' and now I also think I can make it."