After signing energy and railway line deals worth $5 billion with China, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta wants China to invest in Kenya’s Konza technology city.
The Konza Technology City, a $10 billion dollar project on 5,000 acres is Kenya’s Vision 2030 plan for job creation and economic development. The Konza Technology City was initiated in 2009 as Africa’s ‘Silicon Savannah’. The site is expected to create over 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. The city will be developed under Public Private Partnership where the Government will take minimal role by developing the basic infrastructure and regulatory guidelines. ICT stakeholders expect the city to be “a beacon of excellence in the league of Egypt’s Smart Village, Mauritius’ Ebene Cyber City or even US’s Silicon Valley where innovative minds interact with financiers to transform ideas into global products”
Leading companies, including Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile network provider, software firm Craft Silicon,internet service provider Wananchi Online, among others have shown interest. International mobile phone manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei have also expressed interest.
Kenyatta also asked China to invest in its new oil industry, $25.5 billion Lamu port and wildlife protection especially elephant tusks mainly shipped to China for use in making ornaments. The agreement was made during Kenyatta’s ongoing state visit to China where he is meeting China’s resident Xi Jinping and Chinese investors.
Kenyatta’s visit to China is a promise he made before his election into power March 4. His lean towards the East comes after isolation from the West due to his indictment for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court after the 2007 post-election violence.
Scholars argue that China is taking advantage of this isolation to ‘invest’ in the country and ship its raw materials away. China is not new to Africa, it is Zimbabwe’s biggest investor and funder of development projects. In Kenya, it has bankrolled key construction projects.