Inside Silicon Savannah, a dream coming true

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Artist’s impression of the Konza Techno City Pavilion. Photo/Courtesy of KOTDA

Artist’s impression of the Konza Techno City Pavilion. Photo/Courtesy of KOTDA 

By JOINT REPORT The EastAfrican

Posted  Saturday, January 26   2013 at  18:15

In Summary

  • Kenya’s Silicon Savannah dream is finally coming true, with the 250-300 acres of Phase One allocated to various sectors, architectural designs for the landmark building (Konza Techno City Pavilion) complete and a number of investors waiting to break ground.
  • Sitting on 5,000 acres spread across Makueni and Machakos counties, 60km southeast of the Nairobi, the smart city will be built in four five-year phases under a public-private-partnership financing model.

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Among the anchor tenants is a large American company interested in setting up a data centre and a car manufacturer that would like to establish a training centre for its Africa operations.

A number of universities will also be setting up their research and technical hubs at Konza.

Dr Adeya said the universities setting up research, development and innovation centres will benefit from the established companies that will have set up in the smart city.

“There will be a lot of exchange and sharing of ideas. Some of the iconic ideas that come out of the universities will now be developed. They’ll move from theory to practice and this will improve teaching and learning,” she said.

“All over the world we’re talking about a knowledge economy. This is tangible,” added the ICT expert, who sees Konza as an opportunity for Kenya to showcase how a city should be built, taking into consideration the health, the environment and providing a peaceful atmosphere to boost creativity and innovation.

The techno city will provide IT start-ups and people in light manufacturing a structured space in which to pursue their ideas within a cluster.

“If other countries in the region and in Africa can learn something from this and set up their own smart cities, then we’ll have a healthier world,” she said.

Construction of Phase One will start as soon as necessary approvals are obtained from the Ministry of Lands. In this phase, the bulk of the land has been apportioned to residential buildings (90 to 100 acres) and universities (40 to 50 acres). Offices and hospitals have been allocated 25 to 30 acres each.

The rest of the space will go to schools, hotels, dedicated retail plots, dedicated plots for flexible buildings and public spaces, mainly parks and roads, to make “a green and walkable city, which is our focus,” says Dr Adeya.

The other phases will entail the construction of physical infrastructure, such as the Konza Techno City highway connecting to Nairobi, commercial office space and hotels, educational institutions, a research and convention centre, a financial district, a film and media centre and recreational facilities.

High speed fibre optic networks will also be laid out in this phase in addition to the construction of an offsite power substation, cabling for generation and street lighting.

The infrastructure for Phase One is estimated to cost $240 million to $300 million off-site and $440 million to $600 million on-site.

The government anticipates that the private sector will fund some of the on-site infrastructure, including the fibre cables, waste water management, electricity and solid waste management, leaving it to meet the cost of road construction, drainage and landscaping.

The off-site infrastructure mainly entails the road network and railway line.

First to be constructed will be the project’s landmark building, the Konza Techno City Pavilion, which will house KOTDA’s offices, an auditorium and recreational grounds for the public.

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