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In Summary

  • Konza is connected to Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city and the main port of entry into East Africa, by the A109 highway.
  • The highway also connects Konza City to Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

Nairobi is often called ‘the green city in the sun’. The capital boasts of being a city that combines a rich legacy of culture, scenic beauty, and innovative urban development.

The national government, under the Ministry of ICT and the Digital Economy, is currently working to build a smart city in the Southeastern part of Nairobi.

Konza City is located approximately 70 kilometres from the capital’s central business district.

Konza is connected to Mombasa, Kenya's second-largest city and the main port of entry into East Africa, by the A109 highway.

The highway also connects Konza City to Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

With the goal of making Kenya a "middle-income country providing a high-quality life to all its citizens by the year 2030," plans for Konza were unveiled on June 10, 2008, as part of Vision 2030, a government-led development program.

Konza City is set to be powered by a thriving and progressive ICT sector, superior reliable infrastructure, and business-friendly governance, policy, and regulatory frameworks.

The building of the city is being done under the oversight of the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA).

Former president Mwai Kibaki believed that Konza would revolutionise Kenya's socioeconomic growth by promoting significant trade and investment throughout the East African and African regions.

Konza City, located somewhere between Kajiado, Machakos, and Makueni counties, has been designed to be everything that Nairobi currently is, and more.

Here are some of the ways that Kenya’s smart city will be different and better than Kenya’s capital;

Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Sustainability

Nairobi’s population has doubled in the last 20 years due to urbanisation.

According to data from the 2019 census, the country’s capital is home to more than 4 million Kenyans, causing congestion in most parts of the city.

Due to the congestion, numerous new satellite neighborhoods have been built around the nation's capital with little thought given to planning or control.

Unlike Nairobi, which experiences issues such as traffic congestion, inadequate public transport, and environmental issues like pollution, Konza City’s planning prioritises sustainable infrastructure, smart mobility, and eco-friendly practices.

To achieve sustainability, the technopolis has set aside green areas and implemented green building techniques that are intended to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the city and guarantee clean air, sustainable water use, clean, efficient, and renewable energy, as well as waste management and clean sanitation.

The development seeks to be a model for green urban development. Konza City, according to the Konza Technopolis CEO John Paul Okwiri, is being meticulously planned to avoid the pitfalls of overcrowding.

Konza will collect data from smart devices and sensors integrated into the urban environment, including buildings, roads, and other assets, in its capacity as a smart city.

A smart communications infrastructure will be used to exchange the collected data, which will then be evaluated by software to provide the people of Konza with useful information and digitally upgraded services.

Data collected by the city’s data center includes live CCTV footage of the city, the temperature fluctuations in the city, and the demographic data of those residing at Konza.

This data is collected to ensure that city administrators can effectively monitor and respond to various aspects of urban life, including public safety through live CCTV footage, environmental conditions through temperature fluctuations, and informed urban planning through demographic data of residents in Konza.

According to Okwiri, the city has been designed to allow its occupants to have quick and reliable services.

"We have planned it such that it should not take more than 15 minutes to get to a hospital, school, park, or office within Konza City," explained Okwiri.

The developers of Konza City promise that in addition to commercial buildings, technology hubs, offices, hotels, and entertainment centers, the city will also have reasonably priced residential houses, universities, and student housing.

Josephine Ndambuki, the Chief Manager for Business Development and Innovation for KoTDA confirms that they have also set aside a section of the city for President William Ruto’s proposed affordable housing plan which will be built in the city’s subsequent phases.

There will be four phases to the city's development, covering roughly 5,000 acres.

Phase one, which is set to occupy 400 acres, is expected to produce 12,960 residential units that can accommodate at least 30,000 people.

Phase one will see the building of an interchange with the A109 highway, as well as a network of visually appealing, multifunctional lanes that will facilitate access within Konza for all users.

Konza, according to developers, intends to be a bike, pedestrian, and transit-friendly city.

The main station will be a transit hub near the A109 intersection, with capacity for bus passengers in the interim and commuter rail service to Nairobi in the future.

Phase one will also see the creation of parks and recreational spaces, a university, and residential and commercial buildings.

Currently, as part of Phase One, the Konza Complex has been completed as other projects continue.

The ongoing projects include the construction of the Konza National Data Centre & Smart City facilities project and the construction of the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).

The Konza National Data Center and Smart City facilities project is expected to play a significant role in advancing Kenya's digital economy and is designed to accommodate various data types, including audio, video, services, systems, and applications.

The comprehensive data set enables data-driven decision-making to enhance overall city management, optimize resource allocation, and improve the quality of life for the residents of Konza.

Purpose and Focus of the City

Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is a thriving city with a diverse demographic. It is the center of the nation's politics, economy, and culture.

Konza City, on the other hand, is specifically designed to be a technology-driven city. It focuses on fostering innovation, research, and development in the information, communications, and technology (ICT) sector.

The city is currently home to Kenya’s first virtual university dubbed the Open University of Kenya which offers courses in education, agriculture, business and economics, and science and technology.

The Open University of Kenya is the first of the universities that will be in the smart city.

KAIST, under construction, is a university that is said to have been modeled after the Korean Advanced Institute of Science & Technology.

According to the developers, KAIST has been designed to offer graduate programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

According to Ndambuki, the Chief Manager for Business Development and Innovation for KoTDA, Konza Technopolis aims to become the leading global technology hub having innovative solutions in agriculture, health, engineering, and life sciences among other areas.

As part of the Konza Technopolis’ plan to advance technology in life sciences, the city will have high-tech medical facilities and what the CEO refers to as a smart farm to aid in food production.

The smart farm will employ agricultural technologies such as hydroponics to ensure food security.

Hydroponics is the process of growing plants using a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil and can incorporate an aggregate substrate, or growing media.

The health institutions established at Konza will provide technology-based healthcare. The government spokesperson lauded this move saying, that once the project is completed, Kenyans won’t need to travel abroad to get treatment for chronic illnesses.

The city is also set to host Kenya’s first drone zone, a designated area for the testing, development, and deployment of drone technologies.

This initiative aims to encourage innovation and economic growth by providing a controlled environment for experimenting with drone applications across various sectors such as agriculture, transportation, emergency services, and infrastructure maintenance.

According to Okwiri, Konza Technopolis is currently working with and supporting Kenyan tech startups in its quest to advance the government’s digital transformation agenda by investing in the knowledge economy.

Most of the facilities to be built at Konza City, including the stadium, will be technology-oriented and will work to provide solutions through technology.

Unlike Nairobi, whose main purpose is to be the country’s capital and host for political and administrative purposes, Konza City’s focus will be largely technological.

The city has been nicknamed Africa’s Silicon Savannah after Silicon Valley, the Northern California region known as a global hub for high-tech and innovation.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Ajuma Millicent

Quelle/Source: The Star, 12.03.2024

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