The groundbreaking of the Konza Technopolis Park on Wednesday is set to boost the profile of Kenya as a regional business hub with more than 250 foreign and local firms already lined up to invest in the $10 billion (Sh840 billion) project.
President Mwai Kibaki will Wednesday preside over the groundbreaking ceremony, which will pave way for the private investors to start putting up investments on the 5,000 acres of land.
Nairobi — with its growing influence as an ICT development hub and its leaning towards innovative use of technology — is gaining currency as the venue of choice for companies that are keen to use the city as their hub to reach other parts of Africa.
Information Secretary Bitange Ndemo on Tuesday said that previously some of the international investors that wanted to put up their headquarters or assembly plants in the country found it hard to do so, but with the ICT park such hurdles will be a thing of the past.
The ICT Park is expected to create 80,000 new jobs in the first four years as part of the government’s Vision 2030 development blueprint.
“We have received 250 applications from local and international firms that want to invest in the project, 18 of them want to start immediately while 30 have indicated that they will put up investment after the March 4 general elections,” said Dr Ndemo.
The 250 firms which are mainly in the IT, education, hospitality; banking and real estate sectors are drawn from Kenya, Korea, Japan, Canada, India and China. The full list of names of the firms will be made public Wednesday.
He added that among the 18 firms that want to invest immediately are the leading mobile phone firm Safaricom, which intends to put up a data centre, Samsung Electronics which he said will put up an assembly plant, and Huawei of China.
The multi-billion-shilling ICT Park is hinged on a private-public partnership financing model where the government has offered land and is building infrastructure such as electricity, water rail and roads.
The private sector on the other hand is expected to put up investments in various industries such as in business process outsourcing (BPO) ventures, a science park, shopping malls, hotels, international schools and health facilities.
The ground breaking comes on the background of recent formation of Konza Technopolis Development Authority and appointment of four directors to its board to be chaired by an investment banker John Ngumi.
The board of Konza Technopolis will act as a link between the master developer and the government.
A growing number of multinational companies has selected Nairobi as their centre of operations in the continent as multinationals seek physical presence and local intelligence in markets where they previously relied on representatives.
In the past two years alone, firms such as Airtel, Comviva, Samsung, IBM and Google have moved to strengthen their regional headquarters as they gear up for a push into the continent.
A successful execution will make Konza technology city Eastern Africa’s first and only technopolis — a city built specifically for technology firms.