The Kenyan government is banking on universities to jumpstart the development of the planned Konza Technology City through the establishment of campuses for teaching, research and development.

Most significantly, the Korean government committed Ksh10 billion for the establishment of the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), which will become the city’s anchor investor.

Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mr Joe Mucheru said several Kenyan Universities and foreign ones have pledged to invest in the planned techno city which is boasting of a Ksh1.3 billion power line supplying power to the urban centre.

Mr Mucheru named the Universities as University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Multimedia University, Strathmore University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Technical University of Kenya and one of the Universities from India as the institutions interested in the project.

There are more activities planned for 2017. “Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) plans to bring on board design consultants for the Universities with construction not expected to begin until 2018. Over 24 parcels of land that have been set aside for investors ought to be finally allocated in early 2017,” he added.

Konza Techno City has signed an agreement with Israeli city of Tel Aviv to provide training for start-ups that will be hosted at the hub.

KoTDA Chief Executive Officer Eng John Tanui, said the agreement will see Kenyan firms sent to Israel for technology training. Eng Tanui said, Israel will support KoTDA in building the innovation ecosystem and how to turn start-ups and ideas into viable businesses.

Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of KoTDA five-year strategic plan, the CEO said the first phase of Konza infrastructure development will be completed by 2020. “Kenya is hoping to capitalise on Tel Aviv’s position as a global start-ups hub and Israel’s expansion of the technology sector to drive forward Konza Techno City which is bound to accelerate the country’s economic growth,” he said.

The construction of the first phase of the smart city is taking shape in a 400–acre segment within the largest 5,000 acres that the government has set aside for Konza. The first phase of Konza project is expected to cost Ksh600 billion, with 10 per cent of the funds being contributed by the government.

The Authority’s Ksh3 billion complex under construction will house early investors. So far, the government has received 66 expressions of interest from businesses that wish to take up space on the initial 24 parcels of land set aside for leasing.

The Konza project could rival other upcoming smart cities in Africa, such as Ghana’s Hope City and Tanzania’s planned Technology Park.

The integration of technology, internet, mobile connectivity, data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning in Konza Smart City and other Kenyan cities will therefore boost manufacturing and industrialisation.

The government through the Ministry of ICT deserves commendation for its commitment in the promotion of technology and innovation in the country.

Apart from bringing together demand and supply within the new shared economy, the digital platforms also brings about new types of services and pushes companies to rethink running businesses.

The game changers in innovation are; Machine and Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain Technology, Senior Technologies, Internet of Everything, Robotics, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Other than Konza Smart City, Kenya also needs to focus on comprehensive, credible and well thought-out industrial policy to support value-addition and local manufacturing.

The heart of industrial policy such as the case of South Korea and Singapore is providing very selective and targeted incentives to industries that we want to develop.

In order to realize its dreams within the shortest time possible, the government needs to throw its full weight behind special economic zones which have been used to spectacular success by China, Ireland and South East Asia.

The proposed special economic zone at Dongo Kundu is in the right direction. Under Vision 2030, special economic zones are to be build in Mombasa, Kisumu, Lamu and Isiolo. (By Joseph Kipkoech)

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Kenya Engineer is the definitive publication of Engineers in East Africa & beyond and the official journal of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya. Kenya Engineer has been in publication since 1972.

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