Africa’s tech movement grows with new cities

The governments of Ghana and Kenya are committing billions of dollars to building tech capitals Hope and Konza in the hopes of positioning themselves as ICT hubs in the region.

Kenya broke ground on Konza Techno City in 2013, a 5000 acre business hub 70 km outside Nairobi, Kenya. The project has an estimated price tag of $8.5bn. Ghana’s $10bn Hope City is supposed to be built in greater Accra, Ghana. The architectural model for the six tower technology park sports a 75-story structure that would be Africa’s tallest building.

 

Development of these IT megacities parallels the continent’s growing tech movement, which includes an expanding web of entrepreneurs, innovation hubs, investment vehicles and start-ups.

 

Fostering ICT, from the ground up


Both Hope and Konza reflect Ghana and Kenya’s efforts to support budding national technology industries by building Silicon Valley-inspired structures from the ground up.

 

Konza’s origins date back to the mid to late 2000s, when the Kenyan government devised an Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) strategy and Vision 2030, a plan to transform the Kenya into an industrialised, middle income country.

 

Konza is an ambitious project, both as a large scale African industrial park and as a model for pre-planned cities. Its central purpose will be providing a more formal structure to support Kenya’s tech entrepreneurs.

 

Ghana’s Hope City is an equally ambitious plan for creating an ICT mega centre. The Hope project (an acronym for Home, Office, People, and Environment) was announced by Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama in 2012 as a public-private partnership with a 2017 completion date. “The aim is to create an environment for sustainable IT-orientated development, providing residential, retail, hospitality, office, logistics and community related facilities,” says Hope City spokesperson Frema Ashkar.

 

After initial construction costs, Hope City plans to sustain itself through the sale and lease of properties and various service and facilities management fees. Both Hope and Konza representatives claim the projects will contribute substantially to GDP through the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs.



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