A smart city on paper?

12 Years On; A Pulse Check On Kenya’s Tepid Pursuit Of A 5,000-Acre Smart City

By  |  December 23, 2020

Kenya is still chasing its Konza Technopolis dream

At a breakfast meeting in the previous week, the continued commitment to bringing the dream of Kenya’s foremost smart city project, Konza Technopolis City (KTC) to life, was reiterated.

The meeting, organized by the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), the organization in charge of the development of the city had the city’s investors present.

Konza Technopolis City is Kenya’s foremost smart city project with the aim of becoming the “Silicon Savannah.” It’s an organised effort to build Silicon Valley for Africa. 

Although KTC takes its inspiration from the United States’ famous Silicon Valley, it claims that the products to be used in bringing the project to life would be fully Kenyan, thereby giving the project a certain uniqueness.

Konza Technopolis is Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic development project which aims to create a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life.

The underlying structure of KTC is a city that would be built upon the rock of technology. Asides from the technological advancement that the city seeks to achieve, there is also a key focus on environmental sustainability which would translate into an improved quality of life.

It means that KTC would be both a smart and sustainable city. And so far, KTC claims to have developed sustainability development guidelines that would meet the metrics for sustainable infrastructure and urban design. This depicts a two-goal project in a single package.

The checklist to meet the ‘smart city’ goal includes putting in place –  modern transport systems, power distribution, and a green initiative strategy. The project also seeks to produce a business-friendly environment with superb governance systems.

The project has the backing of a Colorado-based American Company, Tetra Tech Inc., which is working alongside the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA). Tetra Tech would be rendering its expertise in building smart cities to foster the work of KTC.

Information dug from Tetra Tech’s website reads, “Tetra Tech is helping Kenya create a 5,000-acre technopolis, supporting the country as it grows into a globally competitive, prosperous nation.”

It goes further, “The Government of Kenya, through the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) selected Tetra Tech as the Master Delivery Partner 2 (MDP2) for the Konza Technopolis project. Tetra Tech is providing programme management, architecture-engineering services, and capacity building to support KoTDA with the implementation of Phase 1” 

The Konza Technopolis would be the first smart city in Kenya, doubling as a world-class technology hub. This project is forecasted to be a major economic driver for the nation.

KTC is currently valued at USD 400 Mn. Of this total amount, it is said that 90 percent would be funded by the private sector, leaving the rest to the government.

KTC’s progress since inception

In the breakfast event, it was announced that Phase One of the project, which covers 400 acres out of the total 5,000 acres of land set aside for KTC has attracted over 40 percent uptake by investors.

“So far, we are happy to note that the project has realized more than 40 percent uptake, some of the investors expected to break ground include hospitals, real estate developers, institutions of higher learning, government agencies such as National  Construction Authority and KETRACO (Kenya Electricity Transmission Company) among others,” said Jerome Ocheing, the Principal Secretary of Innovation and Youth Affairs during the breakfast event.

The tale about the KTC project began the year it got approved, in 2008. Work on the project began in 2009 with the procurement of a 5,000-acre parcel of land, sitting just a stone throw from Nairobi, the country’s capital

In 2012, the Ministry of Information, Communications, and Technology secured a team of consultants led by New York City-based advisors to prepare a detailed business plan and master plan for the first phase. 

The year 2013 was when KoTDA’s Board of Directors got appointed. The Board was established for the development of infrastructure for the first phase of Konza.

At this point, the government is working to complete the necessary infrastructure projects like roads, electricity by the end of 2021.

This tall dream, when brought to life in Kenya, would assuredly be one of the great things to happen to Africa’s business ecosystem.

But just like the sky-high ambitions of the famous Senegalese musician, Akon, who aims to build AkonCity; a USD 6 Bn smart city in his home country, KTC remains a pretty plan on paper for now.

Featured Image Courtesy: Infrastructure News

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