KONZA CITY-HOW BEST TO KICKSTART THIS PROJECT.
The Kenya Ministry of Information through its ICT Board has done a commendable job in conceiving anew cityinKenya, Konza city.
The location is perfect-flat vast vacant grassland nearMombasaroad,JKIAAirportand Nairobi CBD.
The demand for another city is also perfect-Nairobi CBD land has become too expensive, between 200 to 400 million shillings per acre. The traffic jams are too much.
The Konza area needs very little to kick start a new city there. Assistance in terms of Government Policy e.g Town planning, Zoning regulations and laying of infrastructure such a internal roads, sewer and fibre optic cable to name just a few are what is needed to kick start a new city at konza.
Wordldbank/IF as Financial Advisors.
The Ministry of Information has appointed Worldbank/IFC as their Financial Advisors.
The City is being estimated to cost KES 800 Billion.
Its my hope that the Kenya Government through the Ministry of Information will not be pushed to accepting enormous development loans at the expense of Kenyan citizens to finance this.
For starters, the Konza city or Ministry of Information website can publicly avail the contracts so that all Kenyans can be informed on how the Ministry of Information is engaging with the WorldBank /IFC and any other stake holders in using tax payers money to realize theKonzaCityproject.
Other financing options friendlier to the tax payer’s pocket can be explored.
The Kenya Government approved the Ministry Of Information to spend KES 1 Billion towards the Konza city development.
Using the Financial advisory offered to the Ministry of Information by the Worldbank/IFC, the Ministry of Information found it wise to spend all of this money to acquire 5000 acres, hire London-based Architectural Master Planning firm Design Engineers and Pell Frischmann to come up with the planning and design of the city and pay for massive TV and Radio advertisement.
Other Land Acquisition Possibilities without using tax payers money.
East African Portland Cement factory, of which the Kenya Government has shares, has 14,000 acres of vacant land next to Konza city. The 99 year lease for this land expired and so it would have been an easy task for the Ministry of Lands to organize on how the Ministry of Information could acquire some land there to create the plannedKonzaCity. Out of the 14,000 acres, am sure a deal to utilize only 5,000 acres of this massive vacant land could easily have been achieved, saving the use of tax payers’ money to purchase land.
There are many other possibilities that the Financial Advisors,Worldbank/IFC could have looked into advising the Ministry of Information into acquiring land for development.
If these possibilities were exhausted, this could have saved Kenyans’ tax payers money from buying the 5000 acre land so that the same money can go into a more direct ICT use such as laying fibre optic cable.
Tatu city and any other private city developments inKenyahave utilized partnership deals with large land owners whereby one side injects cash to lay infrastructure while the other side offers land. A similar partnership deal could have been utilized to reduce the risk on tax payers’ money into the development.
Slow Disrupted Internet currently in Kenya.
As we speak, the country is being faced with slow internet due to fibre optic cable breakage somewhere along the coast. This money that was used to purchase the land could have gone a long way in ensuring speedy repair and implementing other methods to ensure that such cable damage does not render a whole country’s internet so slow and unreliable.
Other Master planning possibilities and options that could save tax payers’ money.
As we speak, the Konza city project has been set back by another two months because the Ministry of Information Advisors- Worldbank/IFC and London-based Design Engineers and Pell Frischmann- had not foreseen requirements spelt out in the Physical Planning act .
Any local architect or town planner inKenyaknows these regulations at the back of their hands.
The Ministry of Information advisors, Worldbank/IFC and London-based Design Engineers and Pell Frischmann could not foresee the regulations for obvious reasons-they do not have a day-to-day grasp of the Kenyan real estate legal requirements compared to a Kenyan consultancy firm.
This 2 month delay will have an effect on Kenyan tax payer money since this money has already been used in buying the land ,advertisements and consultancy to Worldbank/IFC and London-based Design Engineers and Pell Frischmann.
The daily radio and TV adverts are costing the Kenyan tax payer millions of shillings every day to run. When the public consumes the adverts but can’t invest in the Konza city due to the Physical planning hurdle, this means that the adverts will not realize their goals so more money will have to be spent to attract investors.
Architectural Association of Kenya.
The Architectural Association of Kenya should also advice the Ministry of Information on how best to procure services of international Architects and Town Planners so that when they work inKenya, they can be properly advised onKenya’s planning laws to avoid unnecessary delays which translate to loss of tax payer money.
Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
Recently, the Kenyan AG also pointed out that the Ministry of Information should adhere to the Public Procurement and Disposal act when leasing land to potential investors. The Ministry of Information advisory from Worldbank/IFC and London-based Design Engineers and Pell Frischmann is that the land bought with tax payers money should be selectively given to multinationals with potential to invest. The AG’s position is that the land is public property and thus these multinationals will have to compete with Kenyans in an open fair field where the highest bidder gets the land allocation.
Consultancy cost reduction through using Local Consultants.
The cost of hiring Kenyan Financial advisory and architectural master planning firms is definitely much lower than hiring these services from overseas as in the case of Konza city where Worldbank/IFC and London-based Design Engineers and Pell Frischmann are offering these services.
This cost will eventually be borne by Kenyan tax payers. Money can be saved by hiring local consultants. The saved money can then be used to improve the Internet infrastructure within the proposed city.
The Konza city is a noble idea and is achievable in the long-run if proper team work is achieved.
Partnership with a Government body which already has existing vacant land [14,000 acres] such as East African Portland cement could have gone a long way in freeing cash to be used to enhance internet infrastructure.
Using local consultants who are the major source of the tax payer money could have even gone further to save the Ministry of Information from high consultancy fees and delays due to not comprehending the Kenyan legal requirements in setting up new towns and urban areas.
The Worldbank has been mentioned in this book by John Perkins ‘CONFESSIONS OF AN ECONOMIC HITMAN ‘
on how they arm-twist African countries heads of Ministries into signing contracts which ensure the African countries remain impoverished financially. You can google the book to read various reviews available online.
According to his book, Perkins’ function was to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank and USAID.
It’s my hope that all Kenyans who have been privileged to serve the Kenyan Public in high positions do their research well before signing the proverbial dotted line. Careful reading in between the line for all contracts in the Konza city project is paramount to the successful actualization of the new city.
Francis Gichuhi Kamau, Architect.