For start-ups, tech hub anytime, not Konza city
Posted Sunday, February 26 2012 at 19:59
There has been a lot of talk about Konza City, identified as the possible future Silicon Valley of East Africa and maybe even of Africa.
Tanzania is following up with Raphta City, which more or less follows the Konza City Model.
I would imagine there would be more coming up across the region – one in Uganda and another in Rwanda.
But Konza City does not seem aimed at appealing to the younger developers.
It is modelled to attract only the financially stable companies, primarily from the West or the Far East.
Software developers are flocking in large numbers into tech hubs and this will remain so for the foreseeable future.
So, why are the hubs seemingly being preferred to the bigger tech cities?
If we go back, the story of Silicon Valley had most developers beginning their projects inside their bedrooms or inside their garages.
Google, HP, and a lot of other companies started out this way. It was a cheap way to start out.
Once you had an Internet connection, space to work, a bit of equipment, got your business incorporated and raised some capital, you were good to go.
You slept and worked there, it was home, it was your office, and it worked. Fast-forward to today, and the cost of relocating to Konza City just seems too steep.
To become a resident will not be as easy as paying rent for a low cost office or flat in the city.
You will need a lot more money to gain access; money that could be useful in other aspects of the business like development, marketing or scaling up.
Usually, the romantic view of a start-up is a young person seated in a room somewhere with an Internet connection and a laptop, bashing out code or meeting customer requests. The model has not changed that much when you explore the hub system.
If you have an innovative idea and the smarts to do it, getting into a hub is one of the most practical and cost effective ways to go.
That way, you can gain access to resources that would cost more than a starting developer could afford. With present-day inflationary tendencies, this becomes more of a blessing.
Then there is the aspect of collaborative work. Yes, Konza may offer the same collaborative eco-system, but if you are in Konza, and looking at your costs and time, collaborating may not be as high on your agenda as earning rent and meeting your business objectives would be.
That means a lot of young developers, if they gained access, would risk being isolated from the greater wealth of collective thinking and shared skills.