Nairobi — The much awaited historic Konza Technology City, which is equated to the famous Silicon Valley in the United States of America, is now a reality after the official launch by President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday.
This now opens gates for the developers and investors to start construction at the new city dubbed Silicon Savannah, which is expected to brand the country as a global destination of choice for technology innovations.
The Kenya Silicon Valley, on the border of Makueni and Machakos counties, where the city will be constructed on a 5,000 acres piece of land, is located 60 kilometres from Nairobi.
Once completed, the Sh850 billion project being driven by the Ministry of Information and Communications is expected to attract sufficient investments to create over 20,000 direct jobs by the end of the year.
The components of the city include a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) park, science park, mega malls, convention centre, data schools, world class hotels, international schools, world class hospitals, championship golf course, financial district, high speed mass transport system, residential housing among other high class developments.
"I have directed that mushrooming of unplanned developments must stop and controlled developed should only be allowed in Konza City. Also in areas adjacent the city and along Mombasa road. Konza city cannot stand alone but should start and go with excellence and standards," said President Kibaki during the ground breaking ceremony.
The government will facilitate the construction of both onsite and offsite infrastructure including roads, water and sewerage systems, energy and high-speed rail in order to make the city more attractive, productive and habitable.
The private sector on the other hand is expected to raise funds for developing the actual city.
Konza city is to be built in four phases over a span of 20 years with phase one to be completed by 2017 at a cost of Sh209 billion.
"Convention centre park will be the first, so that people can be able to even have meetings when they come here. This may be on a about 200 acre piece of land," said Todd Sigaty, Event Director at Shop Architects, a New York based firm which has done the Konza City design.
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications Bitange Ndemo assured the residents of full benefits of the city amid fears that the new classic development would largely benefit foreigners and sideline locals.
"We have created enabling environment to invest in the project and we have also developed legal institution framework," Ndemo said.
Residents who spoke to Capital FM Business were optimistic that Konza City will bring positive change in their lives.
"I live in Machakos and I am happy that Konza City will create over 200,000 jobs as our president has said. That is great. We are waiting to see how this big land will look like. We thought it was a joke, but now we believe it's a reality," said Jimmy Nzioka, who had attended the historic event.
The city will be managed by Konza City Development Authority.