Konza technology park gets a boost from fresh zoning

ICT park: The Konza technopolis ground breaking was supposed to have happened last April but was held up by zoning requirements.
ICT park: The Konza technopolis ground breaking was supposed to have happened last April but was held up by zoning requirements. 

The government has laid ground for the commencement of a multi-billion shilling ICT Park to be built on a 5,000 acre site east of Nairobi by issuing a planning notice whose absence was partly delaying the plan’s kick-off.

In a notice issued Tuesday, the government is seeking public opinion on its intended move to regulate the development and use of land spanning some 10 kilometres around Konza to protect it from mushrooming shanties and subdivision into smaller pieces.

The area to be zoned covers part of Malili, Machakos and Olkejuado counties – approximated to be 52,664.73 hectares. The zoning is expected to pile pressure on land prices. The ground breaking of the project was supposed to happen last April and the Information ministry says the delay was occasioned by need to re-plan the areas where the park is sitting and that the legal notice creating the Konza Authority also took longer than necessary. “We had overlooked the Planning Act which requires that we give notice of the intention to re-plan the entire area,” said Dr Bitange Ndemo (pictured), the Information permanent secretary in an email to the Business Daily in response to why the project had taken so long to kick off.

The planning is expected to be wrapped up within six months, in time for the launch of the project in the second half of the year—by which time the promoters of the technopolis believe the country will have concluded the process of establishing a Land Commission. Until a commission is in place, the government has frozen the sale and transfer of public land—which the ICT Park is hinged on.

“We are not transferring any land until the Land Commission is established and we expect the commission should be in place in the next four to six months,” said Dr Ndemo.

The construction of the technopolis is based on a model where the government offers land, legal backing and architectural plans to investors to build business process outsourcing (BPO) ventures, a science park, shopping malls, hotels, international schools and health facilities – a process that has sparked a war of words between Dr Ndemo and the AG Githu Muigai who says investors should submit tenders to avert legal battles.

The AG says the ministry should allocate land to investors in the park known as the Konza technology city through competitive tendering instead of the direct sale favoured by Dr Ndemo who argues the directive would slow down the ambitious project that is set to cost Sh800 billion.

Prof Muigai said his legal opinion is aimed at preventing legal battles for control of prime lands and is in step with the Public Procurement and Disposal Act (PPDA) 2005, which bars sale to a predetermined person or group.