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Konza, what is the future for Africa’s silicon savannah?

Konza is set to be one of the most successful cities in Africa, competing economically and culturally with the best cities in the world. When complete, Konza city is expected to contribute about 2.8% of Kenya’s GDP. The development located just outside of Nairobi is envisioned to be Africa’s home of computerization – an equivalent to California’s Silicon Valley, complete with skyscrapers, business centres, hotels, international schools and hospitals capable of hosting global companies. This project is another pillar in the country’s vision 2030, the national long-term development blue-print that aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrialising, middle-income country.

The vision is clear, and a project like this would be a milestone for the country, but is there both government and private sector support needed to make it happen? The Communications Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo indicates in recent interviews that there is low interest from local investors in what is supposed to to be an exemplary private-public partnership model. For the initial 500 acres of the project only 40% has been taken up by the local sector. Clearly a project on this scale is not going to be realized overnight, but given these early indications is there enough local support to realize the project as envisioned?

At the same time the critics ask how government can justify backing a project like this when there are other basic services in need of reinforcement. What do you think? Is this a project that will gain ground in 2012 and does it deserve the continued support of the Kenyan government and private business home and abroad? What could be done to bring in the support needed to accelerate the project’s development?