Everyone is talking about it, Konza City, Africa’s silicon Savanna. For those who might be a bit uninformed, Konza City is a dream into the future. It is a city who when complete will eat, drink and drive ICT in Kenya. It is set to transform Kenya into a middle-income country. Online jobs in Kenya will be redefined.
Everything from the location of Konza City in a 2,000 hectares plot of land along the Nairobi-Mombasa highway to the blueprint of the city drawn by master planners drawn from the UK, Asia and Brazil, and everyone’s expectations and the hype it has received spells of a big reap in terms of online business and enterprise in Kenya.
To place the prospects of Konza City into a clear perspective, one needs understand where Kenya stands in terms of ICT. A recent researchby Internet World Stats has placed Kenya as the third leading country in Africa in internet use which is characterized by a large social networks fan-base, online job seekers and online business transactions. This comes as no surprise considering prior governing efforts in uplifting ICT in Kenya. The installation of fiber optic cable across the country is maybe the biggest investment that Kenya has made towards promotion of ICT in Kenya. Operating in an open self-regulatory environment, Has further boosted ICT in Kenya.
Critics have however not been slow in pointing out that Kenya could lack enough skilled man-power to staff the vast Konza City. The issue of staffing Konza City has consequently become the major online debate in almost all ICT platforms in Kenya. Does Kenya have the numbers to staff Konza, or will we build a city just to be squashed with foreigners from S. Africa and Nigeria?
For once we will need to be optimistic that the Computer Science degrees offered in Kenya will go a long way in churning out graduates to take up positions in Konza.
But even without looking at the formal sector, Kenya already has enough IT masters to beat any shortage of staff in Konza. Think the M-pesa cons in Kamiti, the phone crackers in River Road, and you have yourself a full house of Silicon savanna geeks ready to do online business and and other online jobs. Sadly enough academia documents always take precedence when it comes to awarding of opportunities in Kenya, leaving skills to rot elsewhere.
The foreseeable impediment in Konza city does not lie in staffing the city, but rather in how employment policies and opportunities will be dispensed. Will it be plagued by corruption like the recent Terminal Four scandal involving Kamnesh Pattni in JKIA? Will meritocracy be considered in offering tenders and employment at Konza City?