Visiting Korean Parliamentarians have urged Kenya to continue with implementation of the Silicon Savannah Initiative, Konza City Technopolis, through which the country aims to capitalize on its status as the hub of Africa’s high-tech boom.
The visiting Korean legislators led by Min Byungo Doo who is also the Chairman of the National Policy Committee in the Korean National Assembly noted that East Asian nation rebounded from the 1997 Asian financial crisis through the development of miniature innovation and technology.
He said South Korea’s GDP per capita has doubled over the years after the government invested over USD88.9 million to establish the Pangyo Techno Valley (PTV), (the South Korean Silicon Valley) in 2004, which is built on the 66-hectare Pangyo New Town, with subways and highways connecting with Seoul and Incheon International Airport.
The industrial complex is being developed in three phases. It is currently in the second phase of development.
“We are watching with interest the Silicon Savannah Initiative, in which you are trying to create a silicon valley in Kenya. 20 years ago when we had an economic crisis, we also invested heavily on ICT Technology so we were able to overcome the crisis. I hope there will be an opportunity for Korean companies to contribute to this initiative,” Doo said during a visit to Parliament Buildings where the held talks with National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.
The PTV which is only 30 kilometres from Seoul has gained global notoriety, with cosmetics and skin care products, home appliances, mobile phones, food, clothing and automobiles manufactured at the techno valley driving exports more than fivefold since its inception.
The Kenyan government is in the process of setting up the Konza City Technopolis (dubbed the Silicon Savannah) in which it aims to become a top business process outsourcing hub by 2030, with on-site universities training locals to feed into a 200,000-strong tech-savvy workforce providing IT support and call center services remotely.
Speaker Muturi said the legislature had resolved to explore parliamentary diplomacy as a medium of attracting trade and enhancing bilateral relations among states.
He urged the visiting MPs to implore on more companies from South Korea to start up operations in Kenya in order to utilize the vibrant information technology space in the country.
“There is a push by this country to be more reliant in green energy and we are very proud to be associated with Korean companies that have taken quite an effort towards geothermal generation and we think that they partnership has been very beneficial to our country because that goes a long way into helping us achieve our Big Four Agenda in manufacturing food security, affordable healthcare and housing,” said the House Speaker when he met the delegation in his office.
Korean legislator Youn Kwan Suk called on Kenya to enact laws that will continue to favour mega-corporations.
“You have mentioned the Big Four in manufacturing, food security, affordable healthcare and stable housing; it is my invitation for your Parliament to create an enabling environment for the Korean companies to make an investment so that we can contribute to the Big Four.”
“We have advanced technologies and infrastructure in road building and other areas which Kenya can benefit from and so I hope there is a lot of opportunities for the countries to work in this area,” explained Kwan Suk, who is a member of the Committee on Territory and Construction.
The visiting parliamentarians announced plans to hold a Korean Cultural Week to commemorate 55 years of diplomatic relations between Kenya and the Asian trade giant.
Kenya-Korea Parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman Kanini Kega urged his colleagues to encourage Korean companies to set in Kenya as the country rolls out Big Four Agenda which is anchored on four pillars among them manufacturing.
“We are ready and willing to assist Korean companies in the set-up of companies in Kenya because we don’t have that many industries in Kenya. The current contribution of industry to the GDP is only 7 per cent and we want to move it to 15 per cent,” he said.
“So your companies and industries have an opportunity to come and invest in the country either in the EPZ that we have in Athi River or Special Economic Zones that we are coming up with in Naivasha. This is the best time to invest in this country,” the Kieni said as he wooed the Koreans.
Kega who also chairs the National Assembly Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee noted the mobile money service M-Pesa as the continent’s most recognized example of technological leapfrogging which launched ordinary citizens without bank accounts into the digital economy as an example of the transformative innovations coming out the country.