In 2008, the Government of Kenya unveiled the creation of Konza Technology City as a lead Kenya Vision 2030 flagship project. Vision 2030 plans to make Kenya a comprehensively focused and prosperous country with a high caliber of living standards by 2030. As a major aspect of this vision, Konza City will be a feasible, world class innovation center point and major financial driver for Kenya. Konza City was initially conceived to capture the growing global Business Processing Outsourcing and Information Technology Enabled Services (BPO/ITES) sectors in Kenya. BPO/ITES business produced US$110 billion in revenues in 2010.
The Government authorized contemplated feasibility studies that exhibited the feasibility of Konza City, the emphasis on BPO/ITES, and its potential commitments to advancing the economy. Pell Frischmann proposed the foundation of Konza City, an innovation stop with world class framework that will be feasible and have comprehensive development as key drivers. In 2009, The Konza Technology City venture was launched with the acquisition of a 5,000 acres section of land package at Malili Ranch, 60km south east of Nairobi along Mombasa-Nairobi A109 road.
Konza City is intended to be a smart city. Smart cities have been attributed to the need for future cities to be able to provide quality of life drawing from environmentally sustainable and efficient practices. Obertiand Pavesi (2013) define smart cities as those cities that integrate environment, people and technologies efficiently. A smart city framework will integrate the following four key city services:
- Infrastructure services (transportation, utilities, public safety, environment)
- Citizen services (access and participation)
- City services (city information, planning and development)
- Business services (supportive services for local commerce)
Konza City plans to learn from other cities in various parts of the world that have successfully incorporated smart city frameworks, including Santander and Barcelona, Spain; Singapore; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Sustainability is at the heart of Konza City and the proposed development will meet international development standards. Renewable energy sources will be used and recycling systems will be put in place. In the words of Bitange Ndemo the Permanent Secretary in The Ministry of Information and Communication, ”East Africa will become one and we will be able to move around freely as we become a regional market and because of that the ICT Park being set up at Konza is not only a Kenyan thing, it is going to be a regional hub for the entire East Africa and provide leadership in ICT for the entire region.”
The city intends to come up with and nurture tons of innovators and their innovations by the convergence of old and new technological knowledge on one site, a large pool of skilled engineers and scientists from around the country, generous funding and the development of an effective network of venture capital firms and as much institutional leadership from the major universities and academic institutions in the region. This is an elaborate and daunting project that is well thought out and is set to be one of the most successful cities in Africa competing economically and culturally with the best cities in the world.