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Technology experts fault project approach

Monday April 2 2012

An artist’s impression of the Konza ICT city project to be located 60km from Nairobi. Photo/FILE

An artist’s impression of the Konza ICT city project to be located 60km from Nairobi. Photo/FILE  

By NATION CORESPONDENT

The 2,000-hectare Konza City will become one of the most sought after international commercial investment opportunities in Africa once it takes off.

Konza City’s master plan is both ambitious and grand. The key features include 35,000 housing units, a Business Process Outsourcing technopark, a university campus, a world-class hospital, international schools, shopping malls and a high-speed mass transport system that connects it all.

It is expected to be built over the next 20 years at a cost of Sh1.2 trillion.

But just like its size, the project is generating equal criticism. Technology experts have questioned the building of the park, with some querying the need to have it at all in the first place.

Some experts believe the government should have approached the project from the grassroots— build capacity such as manpower, skills and local businesses that will then fill the buildings, not buildings first then the people later.

They believe the project might end up being a ghost city— fancy buildings and facilities, with no one to fill them.

Mr Mbwana Alliy, an IT expert who has worked at Silicon Valley in California, advocates a bottom up approach.

“Tech parks tend to be led by governments whose political objectives often trump any real sense of how to really enable innovation and entrepreneurship,” he writes in a post on Afrinnovator, a continent-wide technology blog.

However, Mr Brian Longwe, an industry expert, believes the project will put Kenya on the global ICT map.

The government has already secured land, the master plan is in the offing and the marketing of the project is on, according to Vision 2030 Board director general Mugo Kibati.