The Konza Technopolis has attracted major local service industry players, boosting its chances of success as foreign firms also line up for space in the project dubbed “the African Silicon Savannah”.
Fourteen large firms have expressed interest in the first stage of the Konza Technology City project set to be carried out in four phases of five years each.
The local firms setting up at the Sh26 billion project include Safaricom, Wananchi Online, Kemri, Kari, the University of Nairobi, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the Nairobi Hospital.
Foreign concerns include the fast-growing Chinese Huawei Technologies, Korea electronics giant Samsung and Telemac of the US. Research In Motion (RIM) of Canada, the makers of the Black Berry phone, are also interested according to Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo.
Others are Google, Craft Silicon, Telemax Technology Corporation of Taiwan and Shapoorji Pallonji Group from India.
It is understood that US plane maker Boeing and courier firm Fedex are being courted to set up operations at the city where the government is shortly set to invest billions of shillings on infrastructure. The US corporates pulled out over land acquisition challenges.
“The 14 are willing to start work immediately,” said Dr Ndemo during the official launch of the 5,000-acre project by President Mwai Kibaki at the site 60 kilometres South-East of Nairobi Wednesday.
Mr Kibaki launched the new integrated city and expressed the government’s commitment to building basic infrastructure, including extending the dual carriage road from Athi River, provision of electricity from a new multipurpose dam and a high-speed railway to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
The flagship project under the Vision 2030 economic blueprint is set to position Kenya as the Information Communications and Technology (ICT) powerhouse in eastern Africa.
It will house an international financial centre, a convention centre and light electronic manufacturing plant.
“The techno city, a standard gauge rail and the Sh200 billion Lapsset project are four flagship projects expected to drive the Vision 2030,” said James Mwangi, chairman of the Vision 2030 implementation board during the ceremony.
Mr Kibaki challenged the next government to continue the momentum in building infrastructure projects through increased investments across the country.
“Think of building the next city and the next road in the country. Let us invite and encourage investments and to continue the current rate of development,” he said at the launch.
The city is meant to be part of the Special Economic Zones that will replace the Export Processing Zones and hopefully create some 200,000 jobs.
By Zeddy Sambu