In a recent review of the 2018/ 2019 budget, the Parliamentary Budget and Appropriation Committee allocated sh2.4billion to the Konza City project, money that will go towards paying consultants, building the Konza City headquarters and constructing access roads.
The Konza project was meant to create a city of the future planned to the last brick; a hive of technology, light manufacturing, research and technology that would bring academia and industry together. The city would house offices, residential areas, a university, schools, hospitals etc. Additionally, Konza was to act as a hotbed for business process outsourcing-involving tasks such as human resource, accounting, payment processing etc.
Launched in 2013, Konza City is a far cry from what it was envisioned to be, and has been marred by delays, “it’s not very difficult to do it-build a techno city, but from my own assessment they have taken too long, said Bitange Ndemo former ICT Permanent Secretary, one of the minds behind the Konza vision.
According to Dr. Ndemo, the disbanding of an inter-ministerial committee formed to coordinate the city’s development is partly to blame for the delay, alongside inadequate financial allocation.
On the other hand, during the 2017/2018 financial year supplementary budget, sh771 million was stripped from Konza City’s budget by the Parliamentary Budget and Appropriation Committee, money that has now been returned to the Konza City Technopolis Authority (KoTDA) after the 2018/2019 budget review.
Despite former President Mwai Kibaki launching the project in January 2013, to date, the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA)-the organization that regulates and manages Konza City is still steered by legal notice 23 under State Corporations Act (Cap 446) due to a delay is passing the KoTDA Bill .
A situation that hampers the ability of KoTDA to enter into financing arrangements or even sign lease agreements with investors.
In 2014, a year after the project’s launch, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) wrote to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) calling for the arrest of Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama and Dr. Bitange Ndemo on charges of corruption in the acquisition of Malili Ranch (land used for the construction of Konza City).
The charges were leveled for allegations of irregularities and bid rigging, in the purchase of the ranch at sh1 billion. However, later on in 2017, the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew the case against Senator Muthama and Dr.Ndemo, and instead four directors of Malili Ranch Ltd were charged afresh.
Konza City, dubbed the ‘Silicon Savannah’ has the potential to transform the relationship and position Kenya holds in international business, launching the country towards innovation, technology and development.