Kenya’s ICT Technopolis Park got a boost from the influential Parliamentary Committee on Energy, Information and Communications, when members of the committee pushed for the project to be fast-tracked as they visited the site that will house the Technopolis.
Members of the committee said the project would create many commercial opportunities, and up to 80 000 new jobs in the first four years.
The technology city, which is to be built 60km south of Nairobi, is to be modelled on similar ICT parks in India, Malaysia, China and Egypt.
“The ICT Park will be a catalyst for growth in investment and education in the East African region,” said committee chairman James Rege. “We want the project to start as soon as possible.”
However, officials from the Ministry of Information and Communications emphasised that the start date hinged on ongoing consultations between the government and the International Finance Corporation.
“We are still consulting on the best model to adopt, whether its public-private partnership or private-sector-driven venture, with the government providing the amenities and an enabling environment,” said director of administration in the ministry Bruce Madete.
Kenya’s government, which bought the 5 000-acre land from a co-operative society at a cost of Sh1 billion, is handling the Technopolis planning through the Ministry of Information and Communications.
An earlier visit to the site by the Public Accounts Committee led to the approval of the Sh800 billion ($10 billion) project. The Communications Ministry has said the master plan will be out by the end of April. Several international firms have already expressed their interest in being the master builders, with the ministry providing architectural plans, land and overall coordination.
The National Youth Service has already been contracted to provide a perimeter wall around the land to prevent encroachment by private developers.
Sub-contractors are then set to be invited to bid for the building of the technology city’s infrastructure, recouping their investment with levy service charges under the build, operate and transfer model. Other bidders will be invited to build and operate the transport system within the ICT Park, as well as a high-speed railway linking the city with Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Once completed, the ICT Park will hold BPO centres, schools, universities, shopping malls, hotels with conference facilities, and a financial district. The ministry says government is also in the process of procuring an undersea cable to connect the city to the Mombasa-Nairobi fibre-optic cable, essentially laying the necessary IT backbone for the park.
The project is part of the government’s long-term plan of making Kenya a middle income country by 2030. Commonly known as “Vision 2030”, the ICT Park is set to become the focal point of ICT ventures and home to technology companies in the region.
The Ministry of Information and Communications has hinted that several local and multinational IT companies have expressed an interest in setting up base once the project takes off.
“Two universities have bought land near the area, with an eye on the human resource needs that will be required once the park is complete,” said Kirimi Guantai, chief economist at the Communications Ministry.
The ICT Technopolis Park will facilitate business activity within and outside the country, reinforce efficient linkages between the private and public sector, and promote the acquisition and usage of ICT in the country, says the Kenya Information and Communications Ministry.