Konza Technology City is located some 60km outside Nairobi. Konza will be the site of Kenya’s first smart metropolis – a city built for technology firms that will propel Kenya into the global ICT arena. The high – tech hub will take advantage of the country’s booming communications industry, as the project will provide business space for foreign and local companies at a cheaper rate than they can find in the chaotically over crowded downtown Nairobi.
Similar cities already exist in the Silicon Valley, Malaysia (Putralaya), Panama (Pacifico), the Philippines (Subic – Clark) and China (ShenZhen).
Konza Tech City is a technology business park project developed under the Ministry of Information and Communication, aimed at transforming the Kenyan economy using IT enabled services by 2030.
The city will host a BPO park, a financial district, a science park, a world-class convention centre, a mega mall and several hotels.
It will also have schools, hospitals and other recreational facilities, plus a high-speed train link to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport that will take just 11 minutes.
Through Konza City, the Government hopes to offer the best location to do business in Africa and one of the most sought after international commercial investment opportunities.
The Government has already bought 5,000 acres of land for the Konza Tech City, and is now seeking to hire a master developer to find investors and orchestrate the construction.
Once completed, Konza will be key to the success of the ICT industry in Kenya. The master developer will control the site, design a master plan that guides development, obtain financing and approvals, and oversee phased implementation of the plan by specialised builders with experience in each product type.
Konza City was supposed to break ground in April 2012, but has also delayed as the Government continues to look for a master developer and also create regulatory requirements.
It will take at least a year before the first buildings go up. The project is estimated to cost about Kshs850 billion ($10 billion), to be raised mostly through public-private partnerships, with the Government footing up to Kshs85 billion ($1 billion), mostly for new infrastructure.
Several major technology companies have shown interest in expanding their businesses to Kenya, however, they need world-class infrastructure and buildings, which Konza will provide. Such infrastructure includes having fire hydrants on every access road, as well as having fire detectors, fire sprinklers, exits and a sufficient number of toilets in every building’s ﬂoor.
Kenya must embrace international building codes and standards to be competitive, and Konza is key to achieving this goal. Mobile handset maker, Nokia has committed to fund a research centre in Nairobi to support local developers.
Also, US-based tech firm, IBM plans to start an innovation hub in Nairobi to increase its presence in Africa.
Currently, the site has little existing infrastructure and presents what is essentially a green field site for development. An initial conceptual master plan envisions a BPO/ ITES Park, University and Science Parks, research and development businesses, and other central business district businesses, such as banks, government administration and professional services firms.
The city will also house a modern living community of residential units and social amenities, which will attract high calibre professionals to a modern lifestyle.
This will, in the process, create more than 200,000 jobs. A Special Economic Zone regime (SEZ) is planned for the site, to enhance competitiveness by providing incentives, streamlined business establish ment procedures and predetermined approvals for development.
A public site development authority, the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KTDA) is in the process of being established by the Government, to oversee the planning, infrastructure development and land allocation within the site.
The project’s development will take over 20 years, and the first major phase will be a five year development plan with the goal of creating critical mass of development to establish the economic and real estate market on the site.
The project is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Information and Communications, Working together with an inter-ministerial technical committee. Initial due diligence on the project has been carried out by the ministry since November 2009, Working with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) as the transaction advisor and its team of specialized consultants.
This has resulted in the production of an initial conceptual master plan for the site, with particular focus on site infrastructure needs and costs, a Social and Environmental Strategic Assessment (SESA), a demand and regulatory study for the ITES park component of the project, a legal due diligence report, and various master plan drawings and marketing materials that have informed a recent international developer market sounding.