Konza: The Silicon Savannah

Something truly extraordinary is taking place deep in the middle of Kenya's world-renowned safari plains. An entirely new city is being built with a strong focus on outsourcing BPO in the tech industry. Tel Aviv, the ‘Startup City’ is assisting the Republic of Kenya to build its very first technology hub on 2 000 hectares of land just 60 km south the capital Nairobi. The new city named Konza, will cost a whopping US$14,5 billion (KShs 1.2 trillion)to build and it will feature its a Science and Business Park, a Convention Centre, several shopping malls, hotels and international schools alongside many other attractive facilities.
The world acclaimed Smartest City, Tel Aviv, home to hundreds of startups and tech companies has pledged to assist Kenyan entrepreneur by linking them with Israeli startup managers, access to venture funding and Israeli experts to assist the Kenyans to create urban and technological models for the new city.

This is not the first time Israeli companies have been involved in Africa, citing that county’s own transition into a modern country as a contributing factor to the budding technology centres around the world.

“Within two generations, Israel has transitioned from a developing country to a developed country, and this makes our ecosystem attractive to the developing world. We’re pleased to make a positive impact and serve as Israel’s ‘ambassadors’ in the world.”

Eytan Schwartz, CEO of Tel Aviv Global

Tech Savannah

The Kenyan government has approved the plans for the new city with completion expected as soon as 2019. It is expected to house thirty thousand residents whilst creating 17 000 jobs in the initial phase, growing to 200 thousand residents in line with the country’s long term vision Kenya 2030 adding more jobs in the process.
However, the project has been met with its own share of controversies, with many stating that the 1.2 trillion Kenyan Shillings should be used to improve the already existing local startups, or create a sovereign wealth fund. Many others claim Konza is not ideally located, being just over half an hour’s drive away from the capital city.

City of Learning

International trends indicate that ambitious, knowledge based, groundbreaking projects are seeing a rise among the less industrialised or newly industrialised nations of the globe. Konza’s city planners have designed a smart city by integrating communication networks into the anticipated urban fabric. There will be no disconnect between city services, infrastructure, businesses and residents. An advanced data collection system managed by multiple sensors will efficiently serve residents and businesses in the fields of transportation, events, public safety, and environment in a deliberate attempt. Joseph Mucheru, the cabinet secretary in Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications says, “Konza City will play a critical role in building a knowledge-based economy that will shift the current industrial development path towards innovation – where creation, adoption, adaptation and use of knowledge will drive economic growth.”

Do you think Konza is just another third world prestige project, or can this add value to the tech industry in East Africa and the world? Let us know in the comments section below. Thank you for visiting Base64!