KONZA: The failed promise of Kenya’s smart city

On 6/2/21 7:54 PM, Mwendwa Kivuva via KICTANet wrote:
> Muraya, has hit the nail on the head.
> There are several things we will always skirt around …
> 1. Financial propriety. If we put all the funds that have already gone
> into Konza in a basket, can we distribute them in a transparent manner
> to show value? That is why IEA put the value of each job created at
> Konza at $32,000. Hot topic and very emotive.
> 2. Talent sourcing for the secretariat. Is it at par with the vision city?
> Finally, what has March 2020 to now (COVID-19) taught us about the gig
> economy? That brick and motor …
> A good part of Konza\’s vision can be realized without the edifice complex.
Certainly, remote work is possible in a number of industries, so the
demand for office space concentrated in high rise buildings will
decline. Nevertheless, manufacturing still requires factories. Many
people living in urban environments in Kenya will want/need \”a flush
toilet\” and \”internet/TV\”, so there is still demand for construction and
infrastructure, though perhaps this can now be achieved more
efficiently, equitably and in a wider set of locations.
> ______________________
> Mwendwa Kivuva, Nairobi, Kenya
> www.linkedin.com/in/mwendwa-kivuva
> <www.linkedin.com/in/mwendwa-kivuva>

>> Thanks for sharing.
>> Listers, even the best-laid plans can miss their targets. I\’d
>> rather we discuss:-
>> 1. What went wrong.
>> 2. What are the lessons to be learned.
>> 3. Can the project get back on track?
>> 4. Has it gone wrong? How long does it take to build a new city?
This is certainly good. There seems to be significantly more activity
planning and launching, than serious actionable reviews and post-mortems
to aid in preventing the same errors. Experiments to try new things that
can lead to improvements should certainly be encouraged, and when they
succeed replicated elsewhere.

Regarding point 2, a study by John Kuria on tax incentives in EPZs
suggests that productivity in Kenya is not high enough for many
companies to remain in Kenya after the tax holiday is complete (likely
since production costs are often lower elsewhere and local demand may be


Another study by Joseph Kosure indicates that having similar industries
in a location such as an EPZ helps improve efficiency:


Finally, the older study by Njue Chabari


indicates some of the problems in obtaining information in Kenya about
EPZ\’s 20 years ago. Some of the recommendations made in this study seem
not to have yet been implemented. The study is interesting because it
examines conditions of people working in EPZs, discussing problems such
as housing, wages, attitudes to employers, training, etc. Of interest is
how mechanization reduces need for labor in some industries, a trend
that will only accelerate with improvements in robotics and artificial
intelligence. This study was done 7 years after the establishment of
EPZs – as such it is a progress report, but contains many insights that
are still relevant today. Maybe something like this is needed for Konza
and other related efforts?

Regarding point 4, \”深圳速度\” ( for more information see
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shenzhen_speed and
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_is_Money,_Efficiency_is_Life) or
\”Haraka haraka haina baraka\” , maybe we can learn from each other.

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