Kenya has taken the first step in creating a techno city with the ground-breaking ceremony for the Konza Technology City in Makueni County.
The top cream of the countryâ€™s politics, academic and private sector â€” including President Kibaki â€” travelled 60 kilometres from Nairobi for the ceremony.
It promises to create an ICT hub of unrivalled stature in the region under a private-public sector partnership.
Until now the plan has only been on paper, but at Wednesdayâ€™s ceremony promises were made that 200,000 jobs will be created when the tech city becomes operational.
â€œWhat is important is that you should continue with the development momentum we have gained. Think of the next city to build, think of the next road to construct and focus on how to improve the lives of Kenyans,â€ said President Kibaki.
Together with the proposed Lamu port and new roads to be constructed to open up the northern half of Kenya for development, the tech city is a major component of Vision 2030 which envisages Kenya becoming a newly industrialising, middle-income country.
Developed in phases
Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony at Malili, President Kibaki said the techno-city will be developed in phases.
â€œKonza Techno City will operate under the Special Economic Zone Policy and the Special Economic Zone Act that the Government developed in order to deliver a targeted 200,000 jobs. Both the Act and the Policy present a package of incentives for local and foreign investors,â€ President Kibaki said.
Stressing on the need for Kenya to maintain the development tempo, the Head of State said politicians should not be preoccupied by his retirement but instead think of how they can develop the country further.
The ground breaking came with revelations that over 20 multinationals and local companies have lined up to participate in the construction of the techno-city, giving hope that the multi-billion project could take off.
Among the local investors that have already committed to investing in the project include Safaricom, Craft Silicon, Multimedia University, University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and Nairobi Hospital.
Over 20 international companies have also registered interest, with Internet search giant Google, the fast growing Chinese network and handset maker Huawei and makers of the popular BlackBerry â€” Research in Motion â€” taking the lead. Others include, Shapoorji PallonjiÂ Group from India, Toyota and Telemax Technology Corporation from Taiwan.
â€œThis project has captured the interest of both local and international investors who are willing to commit millions of dollars in its different phases. Three years from now, it will be a different story from what you can see now,â€ Information and Communications permanent secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said.
The city to be built in four five-year phases is expected boost the local Business Process Outsourcing sector and propel growth in the provision of Information Technology Enabled Services for export upon completion.
President Kibaki said all machinery have been put in place to make the project a success story.
â€œI am telling the doubting Thomases to open their eyesÂ wide and see what we are going to come up with,â€ the President said.
He challenged local and international investors to take advantage of the proposed ICT city and contribute towards its success.
President Kibaki said a dual carriage road to be funded by the World Bank will kick off in January next year with a time frame of two years.
He said the Kenya Railways was in the process of developing a high speed and capacity standard gauge railway from Mombasa to Malaba with the ICT city being included.
Speaking on the March 4 General Election, the President urged Kenyans to keep peace and to vote wisely.
And on alight note he said some people have been reminding him about his pending retirement. â€œPeople remind me I am going to retire. I am telling them I was ready long time ago…but I will still be around, I will hang around here and there,â€ he said.
Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka praised former Public Service head Francis Muthaura for playing a crucial role in the ICT project. –Nation