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Kenya kickstarts multi-billion-dollar Konza Tech City

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January 30, 2013

Konza Technology City is planned for completion around 2030

Konza Technology City is planned for completion around 2030

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The Kenyan government intends to spend a reported US$14.5 billion on the creation of Konza Technology City or "Silicon Savanna," which Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki hopes will become Africa's answer to Silicon Valley. Recently underway, the ambitious venture will see the construction of a brand new city on 20 sq km (7.7 sq miles) of what is currently natural savanna, 70 km (43 miles) southeast of Nairobi.

Currently, the plan is for a compact city with a distinct semi-circular footprint within a triangular area of grassland. Though undoubtedly ambitious, the area is only an eightieth the size of the urban conurbation of Great London and is perhaps more accurately described as a town, at least in terms of scale.

A network of roads will fan out radially from the center of the notional circle, with the Central Business District (complete with district hospital) located in the midst of the development. Some 35,000 homes will be scattered throughout the city, while a science park and two technology parks will be created to the north and south. There will be a number of green spaces, including corridors along the protected seasonal rivers already at the site. Schools, universities, convention centers, hotels, mosques and churches are also planned.

State-owned Kenya Railways intends to connect Konza City to a new 180 km/h (110 mph) rail network between Mombasa and Malaba.

Construction will take place in four phases, meaning Konza will be brought on line a stage at a time. Phase 1, now underway, is the most significant phase and is scheduled to run until 2017, by which time the functional necessities of a working city should be in place.

As for the effect on the natural environment, the project website admits that Konza City will cause "loss of habitat and grazing area and the displacement and disturbance of wildlife currently located on site," with migratory wildebeest, antelope and zebra identified among species likely to be hit. A 2-km (1.25-mile) buffer zone and 6.2-sq km (2.4-sq mile) Wildlife Corridor are intended to minimize the negative effects, though the website, with eye-opening frankness, admits that the priority is "development over biodiversity conservation."

Meeting the city's estimated water demand of 100 million liters per day will not be easy. The in-progress Thwake Water and Sanitation Project has been redesigned to accommodate Konza City, which will require 60 km (37 miles) of water pipeline, a section of which will require pumping over the Kilungu Hills. Around two million liters per day will be provided by local boreholes, the drilling of which is presently underway. The completed city is expected to have a peak electrical demand of 675 MVA (so at least 675 MW). Though the Konza City website makes no allusion to new power stations, but does suggests the city can be supplied via the planned high voltage line between Mombasa and Nairobi.

It's claimed the city will offer world class communications infrastructure, thanks in no small part to The East African Marine System (TEAMS) submarine fiber optic cable instigated by the Kenyan government and the country's three other international fiber optic connections.

Unsurprisingly, some have questioned the economic wisdom of the scheme. Quoting more conservative total costs of $8.5 billion, based on 2011 figures from the Konza City website, an op-ed in Business Daily Africa argues that even if the project hits its target of creating 200,000 jobs in 20 years, the investment per job will be more than 20 times the average annual salary.

Source: Konza City

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
7 Comments

I find it interesting that this new city will be building a replica of the Montreal Stadium (see main image in upper right area). Otherwise a pretty cool idea.

Guillaume C Levesque
30th January, 2013 @ 07:15 am PST

An interesting project, but those who know Kenya well will know it will end up being scam to milk and divert funds.

They cant build it, cant afford it, dont need it.

Whats the real intent ??

tsibia
31st January, 2013 @ 04:10 am PST

the technology city is a great idea and has forced me to start a technoly course so as to keep up.

Joseph Gichuki
31st January, 2013 @ 04:16 am PST

They can't feed most of their people throughout the region but they can spend this kind of money on a city. Hopefully the funds will be there to educate and provide for the welfare of the country and not for the select few.

fsa0033
31st January, 2013 @ 08:14 am PST

Rather than destroy animal habitat, and given the air conditioning loads the climate demands, they should have gone completely high tech by siting the entire fresh-start city UNDERGROUND and with NO ROADS, just people movers to its periphery.

solutions4circuits
31st January, 2013 @ 11:02 am PST

Indeed it is a duplicate of Montreal's 1976 Olympic Stadium. For the world out there to know, the stadium in Montreal was referred to as the Big O but more aptly called the Big OWE for its cost over run, for storage of a collapsible roof which never worked and for prematurally dropping concrete structural members onto the ground.

I would suggest as an early cost savings to Kenya NOT to build this thing! I gladly accept a wee % of the money this will save as a token of Kenyan taxpayers appreciation.

Mike DuBois
31st January, 2013 @ 11:21 am PST

It's the international politics behind *why* their people are starving, that makes this idea an interesting attempt to fix that problem.

As for the "more than 20 times the average annual salary." - LOL - since the annual salary is 3 peanuts and a cup of coffee, ... so what?

christopher
2nd February, 2013 @ 04:11 am PST
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