Kenya’s Konza smart city dream inches closer to reality as South Korea takes up key projects

Seoul will through a grant finance four projects under the Economic Innovation Partnership Program

Kenya’s journey to set up a smart city at the Konza Technopolis has been long and winding. The project has been hit by a series of headwinds that have delayed, and even threaten to abort, its actualisation.

However, the plan now seems to be back on track having gathering a new momentum thanks to a series of projects have been unveiled and a number of investment deals struck.

The latest entrant into the arena is South Korea which has promised to finance some essential projects. Some of the projects that Seoul has taken up include Intelligent Transport System (ITS) and Integrated Control Centre, the establishment of a Startup Ecosystem, the development of Smart Logistics in Konza and the development of the Konza-Nairobi Corridor Transport Network.

South Korea will through a grant finance the four projects under the Economic Innovation Partnership Program (EIPP).

Konza, a flagship project of Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic blueprint,  is designed to be a technology and innovation hub meant to accelerate the country’s shift into the digital-driven economy and e-commerce. The grand project is also expected to assert Kenya’s stature as a regional innovation hotspot.

“Konza Technopolis has identified several candidate projects for consideration and I am pleased to note that four additional projects have been approved for implementation during the second year of the development program,” ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said yesterday at the launch of the projects.

The four projects follow the successful completion of targets in the development of Konza City in the first year.

The Korea Trade-Investment & Promotion Agency (KOTRA) and the Konza Technopolis Development Authority are implementing the projects on behalf of the two governments.

Kenya is betting on the transfer of tech skills from South Korea to rev up its economic digital transformatiom. Seoul is one of the world’s leaders in technology.

Kenya boasts a high percentage of tech-savvy youth who are creating jobs through start-ups and online-based jobs highlighting the rich digital ecosystem that Konza Technopolis will ride on. Kenya is also banking on the Konza Technopolis to step up creation of jobs.

EIPP supports between two to three projects annually for three years and focuses on mid and long-term development strategies, infrastructure and financing of the projects.

The launch of the Konza projects comes barely a year after the South Korean government gave Kenya a grant of $6 million (Sh685.86 million) for the construction of the transport infrastructure, planning and security installations in the city.

The funds are being disbursed in three equal yearly tranches of $2 million (Sh228.62 million), and will among other things be used for the construction of smart parking facilities, digital signage and electric vehicle infrastructure at the Technopolis.

The National Treasury allocated Sh5.2 billion in the financial year ending June to build roads, drainage and other infrastructure. A further Sh3.8 billion was set aside for the data centre and smart city facilities for the smart city whose construction is being undertaken in four phases.

The first phase was the construction of the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology followed by the Konza National Data Centre and Smart City.

Parliament is set to debate a Bill that if adopted seeks to among others outline the requirements for foreign investors seeking to set up shop in the smart city.

The Konza Technopolis Bill, 2022 that was tabled in the Senate in December last year will anchor the establishment of the Konza Technopolis Authority— the State agency that will develop regulations to guide investments in the smart city.



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