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Technology

Launch ceremony for Sh900bn ICT park next month

An impression of the Konza Tochnopolis Park in Malili, Machakos. Two directors of the controversial Malili ranch were Wednesday acquitted by a Nairobi court after they were accused of stealing Sh143 million
An impression of the Konza Tochnopolis Park in Malili, Machakos. Phase one of the ambitious project will include a science and technology park spearheaded by the Ministry of Science and Technology, a Business Processing and Outsourcing (BPO) park, world class hotels, a stadium and other social amenities typical of a city. Photo | File 

The groundbreaking of the proposed ICT park is expected to take place next month, paving the way for investors to begin construction as the Sh900 billion project begins to take shape.

The master plan for phase one of the park has been approved and ongoing assessment will see the construction of a business process outsourcing (BPO) park, world-class hotels, residential areas and a financial park.

The first phase of the four-phase Konza City project is expected to cost about Sh207 billion and would be completed in four years.

“Some organisations have shown interest and want to start construction but we must finish the land topography work that is ongoing,” said Information PS Bitange Ndemo. “If this is completed on time, the President is expected to break the ground next month.”

The new date comes several months after an earlier one slated for April aborted due to a court case related to the Malili Ranch where the ICT parked would be located.

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The technopolis, a city built mainly as a technology hub, is expected to create 100,000 new jobs in the first four years as part of the Vision 2030 development blueprint. The other phases would generate 39,000 jobs, with half of those directly from the park.

“A new town will be created around the BPO park providing different options and all required city amenities,” he said.

Construction on the park will be carried out through public-private partnerships in which the government commissions a private developer to build the property and upon completion, leases it out for 99 years or sells it to interested buyers.

A separate group of developers will build the city’s infrastructure and levy service charges under the build, operate and transfer model. “The developer will oversee the entire project including part of the financing, project management as well as the actual construction,” said the Kenya ICT Board CEO, Mr Paul Kukubo.

Already, the International Finance Corporation has commissioned international consultants to look at the master plan of the hub, its economic viability and create detailed proposals. The corporation has expressed its interest in financing potential developers.

However, actual cost of individual buildings to be constructed are yet to be been determined even as concrete details on specific companies eyeing the project remain mysterious.

Top on the list of contenders to build on the park are India’s Mahindra, Tata Infrastructure, Leasing and Financial Services and Wipro from America. Other firms from UK, US and several Scandinavian countries are also said to be eyeing infrastructure projects at the park. “An Indian hospital is also planning on constructing a research centre hoping to tap into the large number of Kenyans who travel to the Asian country seeking medical care,” said Dr Ndemo.

Once completed, lease periods for buildings will be hinged on the period it takes them to recoup costs without imposing a heavy cost burden on users.

To dissuade successful contractors from extending projects well beyond their intended timelines, the government is considering entering into guarantee partnerships with them resulting in a scenario where time-barred developers’ forfeit monies invested.

Since inception of the idea in 2008, the project – formerly known as Malili ICT park – has run into several headwinds with the latest one ending on July 13 with the acquittal of two ranch directors accused of stealing Sh143 million.

Mr Peter Kanyi and Mr Julius Kilonzo had been accused of stealing the money meant to compensate owners of the 5,000-acre ranch bought by the government for Sh1 billion to develop the park.

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