Konza city project has gone beyond cheap politics witnessed in its infancy and to prove that, it gained a bump in its profile when the president officially unveiled the master plan that’s expected to get Kenyans from the streets to decent jobs, but exactly what should we expect as Kenyans? Analysts have put the total number of jobs expected from the upcoming tech city at around two hundred thousand; it’s a good number for jobless Kenyans and the economy but it’s undoubtedly costly too. Most of us expect nothing less but a replicate of the famous Silicon Valley, it’s good to dream big but the wisest prefer adding reality into the mix to get an achievable recipe, I don’t have the recipe yet if you’re looking for one but I have some ingredients that will add taste.
Let me start by recognizing the efforts put in by professionals and the entire vision 2030 crew, I honestly think they did a superb job and they subsequently deserve our respects. My analysis is and should be focused mainly to whether the Konza city project is as they say it is and if we should expect those benefits. Silicon Valley is commonly used as a model for this project, I think it was well thought but over exaggerated; I am guided by similar projects that were developed in days of yore and my small understanding of economics. Being a combination of financial, technology and industrial segments, there are lots of assumptions you’d expect here than on a single industry; first, is the case of a private sector cluster city, you should note that creating this industries individually is equally difficult but combining them is more times difficult.
It’s estimated to cost around $8.5 billion to complete all four phases from information acquired on the project’s website, but we’ve seen estimates coming from different corners for the twenty year project go beyond the stated figure. That’s a staggering figure for only two hundred thousand jobs and probably a few thousands indirect employment not forgetting the cost is twenty times higher than average annual income per year. Considering these factors plus the cost of foregone taxes and subsidy on land makes this project less attractive economically.
Beyond the costs, the plan has public funding confined to infrastructure leaving the construction of premises to businesses in the technology, financial and manufacturing industries. Guided by similar creations, projects that came to be had higher learning institutions within their localities. Despite my skepticism, Konza city is expected to create high profile jobs that demand prudent skills and if the government does its calculations properly, a huge chunk of investment that will be spent won’t matter.