Construction of Kenya’s ‘silicon valley savannah city’ dubbed Konza Technopolis is taking shape, with the government committing an additional Sh40 billion for the development of the requisite horizontal infrastructure this financial year.
Already, the State is putting up the Konza City Complex at the Makueni county site, which will be complete by November 2018, proving wrong the naysayers who questioned the government’s commitment to the project.
Information Communications and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary (CS) Joe Mucheru says in the next three years, the government will have completed the infrastructure, which is necessary for a modern techno city.
Speaking during a tour of Konza city together with the ICT committees from Senate, National Assembly and the Council of Governors (CoG), Mucheru said the contractor is already on the ground and construction works have commenced. “We are going to construct a 40km road network in Konza city, which will go along with fibre cable and electricity reticulation in an underground tunnel. This will help avoid disruptions of roads during cable repairs since the city will be operational 24 hours a day,” he said.
Mucheru said the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (Ketraco) is constructing a 400 KV station specifically for Konza city, adding that a water reuse system will also be set up. The government has allocated an additional Sh17 billion to set up the national data centre.
Mucheru said a national ICT steering committee will soon be formed, comprising the chairmen of the various committees and the ICT ministry. “ICT is an enabler for the Big Four government agenda. We must continue supporting ICT projects in this country to ensure they impact positively on people’s lives. We have looked at the progress of the Konza city and everyone is impressed by the status of developments,” said the CS.
Council of Governors ICT committee chairman Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo- Marakwet county) said the counties are struggling with revenue collection and innovations, adding that Konza city can help them improve. “ICT departments in the counties are underfunded since they fall under other departments. This needs to change if any meaningful innovations are to be achieved,” he added.
The National Assembly ICT committee chairman, William Kisang said: “We believe for Konza to go forward the ministry needs to come up with a bill, bring it to Parliament so that it is anchored in law,” he said.
The MP challenged Kenyan investors to put up an ultramodern cancer centre at Konza city, exuding optimism that given new technologies at the technopolis, a cancer cure will be discovered, saving Kenyans from going to India.
Senate ICT Chairman Gideon Moi warned that the 10 million jobless Kenya youth is a walking time bomb. “We may not see them, we may not hear them, but trust me we will feel them. It is fantastic to hear that the Ajira platform under the ICT ministry will be able to create a million jobs for our youths annually,” he said.
However, investors at the proposed techno city have been slow to take up plots and start construction of what is expected to be one of Africa’s major technology hubs. The State approved the creation of the techno city in 2008 as a main Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project. It is expected to be a sustainable, world-class hub and major economic driver for Kenya.
Konza was initially conceived to capture the attention of the growing global business processing outsourcing and information-enabled services sectors to Kenya. It was expected to create 16,000 direct jobs upon completion and accommodate over 260,000 people. Nine years later, the site is not yet a beehive of activity.
During a media tour of the project last year, Vision 2030 Director General Dr Julius Muia said building a new city is never easy and that the delays in Konza taking off are not unique. “Tatu city in Ruiru is a private sector initiative that is also taking time. The proposed Lamu City is also yet to take off. Building a green site development is never easy,” he said.