Konza Technology City – Africa’s “Silicon Savannah”
Konza Technology City, dubbed “Africa’s Silicon Savannah”, some 60km from Nairobi, is one of the most publicized elements of Kenya’s Vision 2030.
The US $10bn project aims to create a world-class technology park on roughly 2,000 hectares of land.
Connected to Nairobi (60km) and to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (50km) by a dual carriage highway and a high-speed rail connection, Konza Technology City is intended to be home to 200,000 jobs when complete. Generous tax incentives and red-tape waivers for investors have also been put in place to attract the right kind of companies.
Backed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Kenya’s government has already pledged funds for the infrastructure, and is now going into high gear in the search for investors for the project.
While no names of investors are public yet, the interest for the project seems to be massive: More than 200 firms participated in the tender for the overall project management, and more than 60% of the investments slots in Phase 1 are already booked, according to the Ministry of Information.
To boost the credibility and transparency of the project, all tenders at all stages are carried out by the World Bank and IFC. For good reasons, Kenyan authorities still have an unfortunate reputation that would have dented the process were they to be in charge of that task.
The potential of Konza Techno City as a contributor to growth and development in Kenya cannot be underestimated. Nairobi is already emerging as a regional business and technology hub on the African continent, and a successful Konza Technology City would cement that position for the foreseeable future.
In terms of infrastructure, Kenya has made some giant leaps since the days of former president Daniel arap Moi: The country now has some of the best broadband infrastructure in Africa, while road projects previously dismissed as hopeless dreams have become facts on the ground: The now almost completed Thika Road ranks among the most impressive superhighways in Sub-Saharan Africa, while the newly opened bypass road are already easing pressure on the Nairobi city centre. Roads across the country have been upgraded from barely driveable to an acceptable standard under Kibaki, and the newly launched Lamu-South-Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET) will be the biggest infrastructure project in Sub-Saharan Africa since the Mombasa-Kampala Railway.
The massive and ambitious infrastructure projects started under Kibaki, have gradually brought down the cost of doing business, and made Kenya an increasingly attractive investment destination.
Konza Technology City is one out of several special zones envisaged in the Vision 2030, whose overall goal is to turn Kenya into an industrialized, middle-income country by 2030.