NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The Kenyan government has declared a national public holiday the day Pope Francis will celebrate Mass here, drawing an expected 1.4 million people.

The papal Mass is due to take place Thursday on the grounds of the University of Nairobi. Large crowds are expected to flock to the event.

The national holiday of prayer and reflection was announced Tuesday by Manoah Esipisu, a spokesman for President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Concerns have been raised that businesses in the city center will be unable to operate due to the overflowing crowds and road closings.

This is the first trip to Africa for Francis. The pope is visiting Kenya, Uganda and Central African republic and he is expected to deliver messages touching on sectarian violence, the environment and poverty.