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CS Matiang’i:Don’t hold breath for Konza City coming up soon

ICTBOARDMATIANGI

The new six-member board is expected to enforce ICT standards in Kenya and enhance the supervision of electronic communication/

Construction of the much-awaited Konza Techno City will not be starting anytime soon due to red tape in public procurement.

Information Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the red tape prevents his ministry from spending the money allocated to the project.

“Sometimes we feel that the public procurement process is unnecessarily punishing. But with a project of a magnitude such as this one, everything must be handled with utmost care,” said Mr Matiang’i on Thursday.

He was inaugurating a new board of the Information Communication and Technology Authority.

CASH YET TO BE USED

The project was allocated about Sh793 million in the 2013/14 budget for basic infrastructure, but the money has not been spent due to the stringent procurement laws.

Failure to get approvals from other government agencies has further delayed the city.

“This is a multi-billion project and has to follow a very painstaking, methodical and lengthy approvals at all levels. Our hope is that things will move faster” said Mr Matiang’i.

He urged approving authorities within the government such as the National Environmental Management Agency and the Lands ministry to work faster.

Last year, the government got a Sh8.7 billion ($100 million) loan from the African Development Bank to construct a dam to supply water to the proposed Konza city.

Located in Makueni County, the reservoir will be the main source of water for the residents of Konza Technopolis in addition to generating power for use by industries in the multi-billion shilling city.

Sitting on 5,000 acres of land spread across Makueni and Machakos counties about 60 kilometres South East of Nairobi, Konza city was launched in January last year and would be built in four, five-year phases under public-private-partnership financing.

Its completion is expected to boost Business Process Outsourcing and propel growth in Information Technology Enabled Services for export to the region and the world.

BLOCKING APPOINTMENTS

At the same time, an industry lobby group has threatened to block the appointments of the authority board terming it unconstitutional.

The team has 10 members constituting the chairman, three representatives from the ministries of Lands, National Treasury and ICT. The other six are appointed from the public.

The board will be chaired by former Alego MP Edwin Yinda with members including Prof Timothy Waema, Ms Esther Kibeere, Ms Bertha Dena, Prof Elijah Omwenga, Mr David Mugo and Mr Ugas Mohamed.

However, Information Communication Technology Association of Kenya, said the appointments were not done according to the law and gave the minister seven days to recall the board or they would sue.

The association said the minister bent the law by appointing more public service officials contrary to the law which requires that the appointees should not be in the public service.

They accused the minister of making all the appointments at the same time while the law requires members to be appointed at different times for a smooth transition.

Additionally, the lobby said the minister did not consult in selecting members.

“Kindly provide us with your comments on the above observations before we proceed with our next course of action,” read a statement signed by secretary general Kamotho Njenga.

Setting up of the board paves the way for the appointment of a substantive chief executive officer to the authority.

Nation

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