On January 23, 2013, the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki announced the launch of the “Konza Silicon City” project. The President plans to have a city built in the Silicon Valley, which is currently an empty savannah and a single highway. This city has already been given several names, but the official title is “Konza Technology City,” while a few nicknames include “Africa’s Silicon Savannah,” and “Silicon Valley City.” The intention of this city is to become a business hub for Kenya in the IT, or Informational Technology, field.
This city will cost about $14.5 billion U.S. dollars, and will take around 20 years to complete. It is located South-East of Nairobi. Although the city has not started being built yet, the plan is for the city to have a university campus that will focus on many different facilities, such as hotels and schools, as well as research. This city will also include 35,000 homes. The Kenyan government envisions over 200,000 jobs being created by this city by 2030. In fact, Konza has formed part of the Kenyan government’s “Vision 2030,” which is their long-term economic plan created during the institution of a new constitution in 2010.
Various incentives are being given to potential companies to move into the city once completed. In addition, there is a growing number of software developers located in Kenya, and these developers will have places in the Konza Technology City. Alo, the Kenya government was inspired by several other “new cities,” such as Egypt’s Smart Village. Therefore, they plan to have all areas in the city easily accessible by all residents, either by public transport or walking. The Konza Technology City will potentially spur trade and investment for Kenyans in the IT field, as well as international tech companies around the world; President Kibaki called it a “game-changer.”
The Kenyan government also hopes that the Konza Technology City will improve the Kenyan infrastructure that has been neglected over the years. It is seen as a potential way to help reduce the corruption in the country. Indeed, it has attracted strong support from the country’s various political players. Perhaps it will also serve as a role model to the rest of the country, or even neighboring African countries. Kenya already has a strong technology sector in their country, as well as multiple startups, that have both interested international investors. Overall, Konza Technology could help lay the groundwork of further gains by Kenya, not only by reducing corruption, but by helping their economy, and even lowering the poverty.
A video report about Konza’s Technology City can be found through Youtube.
– Corina Balsamo