By Onesmus Nzioka
With the much-touted Konza techno city in Machakos County promising handsome gains, investors and locals have embarked on various ambitious projects with the hope of cashing in once the city is up and running.
Two years ago, shacks made of corrugated iron sheets and sacks that only served as food kiosks and vegetable stalls were the hallmark of the 5,000-acre spread.
With the reality of the many investment opportunities the ICT park presents dawning on many, large ultra-modern buildings have sprung up, which have led to development of what is arguably one of Kenya’s fastest growing shanty towns.
Notable is the booming hotel and restaurant businesses. These have been buoyed by the town’s location at the heart of Kapiti plains, a major tourist destination.
Peter Kanyi, proprietor of one of the restaurants says business at the mushrooming town is promising and he hopes to make a fortune when construction begins at the designated ICT Park.
Mr Kanyi is among locals who have invested millions in the area, putting up a modern hotel complete with conference rooms and accommodation at the rapidly growing town to take advantage of the much-touted Kenya’s Silicon City. He says the hotel business is anticipating good returns as the ICT Park is destined to become a top tourist destination coupled with demand for conference facilities.
Mr Kanyi says local residents should invest more in such ventures before foreigners ‘grab’ everything.
Daniel Wambua, a computer software engineer, has teamed up with with other investors to set up a software development company to take advantage of this opportunity.
Mr Wambua says the company will soon set up shop at Malili town as it moves to recruit and train new employees in software development before the technopolis is constructed.
He says there is need to build capacity on creating ICT-related projects especially among the youth as most are not ICT-conversant and may not take advantage of the business opportunities presented.
“There is need to impart skills in the youth because most of them do not know what ICT is all about and are excited that the project will guarantee them jobs. Most are waiting to get jobs as casual workers at construction sites and others as messengers in offices,” says Mr Wambua.
Mr Wambua says there should be investment in ICT to keep pace with the rest of the world and make Kenya a regional technology hub.
Mr Nicholas Mwania, a resident of Sultan Hamud, has started poultry farming in anticipation of the city.
Mr Mwania, an employee of a clearing and forwarding company in Mombasa, says there will be high demand for food once construction at the ICT site begins, and he hopes to reap abundantly from supply of chickens and eggs to the residents of the city.