Is this yet another false start for Sh596bn Konza Tech City?

Artist's impression of Konza Technology City in Malili, Machakos
Artist’s impression of Konza Technology City in Malili, Machakos. PHOTO/COURTESY
Four years after the launch of the much-hyped Konza Technology City, construction of the Sh595.8 billion facility is yet to begin despite several false starts, raising all kinds of eyebrows.

The project, which is located in Machakos County – some 50 kilometres from Nairobi, has not made any significant progress since its groundbreaking in January 2013 save for its recent connection to the national electricity grid.

But in the latest attempt to kick-start the project, the government has announced that it will begin work on a Sh3 billion facility that will serve early investors at the proposed “Silicon Savannah”.

The planned installation will comprise a Sh1.9 billion eight-storey building that will host the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) offices and a Sh1.1 billion five-star hotel with conference-hosting facilities.

The government expects the facilities will make it easier for investors to undertake work on their parcels of land, which will be allocated to the respective investors early next year.

“We are in the final stages of allocating land to investors and they must develop their parcels of land,” KoTDA chief executive John Tanui said in an interview.

The project that is inspired by the US Silicon Valley involves construction of business hubs, hospitals, schools, universities and residential units capable of hosting local and international corporations on a 5,000-acre parcel of land near Machakos town.

Konza Technology City, whose master plan borrows on best practice from Brazil, China and Britain, will be carried out in several phases spanning 20 years with the initial phase expected to be completed in five years.

The development is based on a model where the government offers land, legal backing and architectural plans to investors to build business process outsourcing (BPO) ventures and other facilities.

Late last year, KoTDA invited investors to bid for land in the initial phase of the project and the Authority says it has so far received 60 bids.

Some of the local companies that have expressed interest in setting up in Konza include Craft Silicon, Nailab and JamboPay among others.

The State is investing Sh52 billion in setting up Konza’s basic infrastructure, including construction of a 4km road network on site and the installation of a 12km electricity line to power the city.