Work begins on Kenya's Konza city

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Construction of Kenya's Sh850 billion Konza city officially began today, with the groundbreaking ceremony by President Mwai Kibaki.

Information Ministry Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said already 15 companies have promised to begin construction works immediately as the country aspires to become a middle-income economy by 2030.

The Konza ICT City is one of the theme projects expected to make Kenya a newly industrialised economy in 17 years, under the vision 2030.

The companies include, China's Huawei technologies, Samsung, Crft Silicon, Safaricom, Wananchi, RIM (Canada), Kenya Medical Reserach Institie, Kenya Agricukltural Research Institute, Multimedia University (Kenya), Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, University of Nairobi, Toyota Kenya and Nairobi Hospital.

Dr Ndemo said initially the techno city was to host Business Processing and Outsourcing companies but that has since been reviewd to include other services like international finacila instituitions, schools and  hotel and tourism facilities.

“We are very lucky that we have attracted at least 15 companies that will start work immediately," he said.

Officially launching the techno city, President Mwai Kibaki said over 100,000 jobs would be created at the technopolis.

Financed through a partnership between the government and the private sector, the tech park is expected to position Kenya as a leading ICT hub in Africa by leveraging and expanding the country’s technology focused industries.

The president said the new city would create numerous opportunities for investors interested in offering services to city dwellers besides the many opportunities for employment.

“Let us have products that we can export to the rest of the world,” said President Kibaki.

He said government will facilitate construction of onsite and offsite infrastructure including water, sewerage and high speed train.

“We have already put in place ICT infrastructure with the laying of fibre optic cables which has gone a long way in making Kenya an ICT hub in East Africa,” he said.

The government, said President Kibaki, has already sourced funds for a dam for irrigation and hydropower production to boost power supply at Konza and the national grid.

He also said to boost transport to and from Konza City, Kenya will construct a dual carriage way from Athi River  to Konza city and that Kenya Railways is in the process of constructing a high speed railway from Mombasa to Malaba (Uganda border) via Konza.

He urged both domestic and foreign investors to take advantage of the numeous opportunities offered at Konza, and gave the assurance that the development in and around the city would not be done in a haphazard way.

Communications minister Samuel Poghisio last week appointed board members to the Konza Technopolis Development Authority, the body that will oversee implementation of the Sh850 billion project.

The naming of the board sets the stage for hiring of a chief executive officer and executive team to oversee the project.

Directors include Mr Haron Nyakundi (a building economist), Ms Emma Miloyo and Mr Reuben Mutiso (both architects), and entrepreneurship expert, Ms Rosemary Maundu. They will serve under Mr John Ngumi, a seasoned banker who was recently appointed to chair the board by the president.

Kenya's Konza City gets underway.

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