Category Archives: Vision2030

Konza and Smart City Solutions, post-COVID

This week, the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (Konza) hosted a webinar, with the theme was using digital technologies in the planning for the future of cities after coronavirus (COVID-19) has passed.  

It was unique in that it featured two of the original main movers behind Konza; Bitange Ndemo, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, whose’ brainchild was Konza and Mugo Kibati who was the Director-General of Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Board, and Konza was one of their flagship projects.

The day’s main speaker was Jerome Ochieng, the current Principal Secretary ICT and Innovation who said it was exciting to see a planned city being built from scratch. He said that previous cities had traditionally developed services in silos, but this had led to high costs, waste, and duplication. But he said, going forward with Konza, and using smart cities planning and technology, they would be able to improve the quality and performance of urban living spaces, while reducing energy consumption, service management costs, greenhouse gas emissions. He added that COVID was one of the greatest advertisers of technology – to solve challenges we encounter and that such events will drive how the government will provide services post-COVID.

He highlighted they had been pre-occupied with building the necessary and extensive “basement” work of horizontal infrastructure at Konza- underground utility tunnels (for fibre, power, water and sensors), access roads for pedestrians, BRT etc. These would serve the current and future service needs of the smart city, but that once that was done, other construction projects would take off quickly.

At this stage, Konza, which is 30% done, will also host a permanent building of the national data centre that will be ready by year-end while the city will also host the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, according to Konza CEO, John Tanui.

Mugo Kibati said we are now in an era of lower touch, and lower contact for all our interactions and this was happening through technology. Telkom Kenya, the company he now leads, is aiming to position itself to serve these current and future needs as, even after COVID ends, as some changes it has induced, will remain the norm and sustain long after the pandemic. he cited how residential homes now require more bandwidth as more people are working and schooling from home, ordering food and getting medical attention via telemedicine etc. He said that in smart cities, and with more data being generated, that require predictability and planning, telcos will have to move up the value chain to be part of that future.

Bitange Ndemo said that when Kenya did the open data initiative, they had to host a lot of data outside of the country, but that this would not happen any more now that there is a data centre at Konza. He highlighted how there would be opportunities to use data locally to upscale SME’s.

Adam Lane, Deputy CEO Government Affairs at Huawei Kenya, said that Konza will have an intelligent operation centre, comprising network, cloud, platform and then apps, that will provide management for the smart city, like other centres that Huawei has built. He said that on a smart city street, you do not have a pole for lighting, a pole for electricity, a pole for telecommunication etc.

Socio-Economic Atlas of Kenya

The Socio-Economic Atlas of Kenya provides a visual look Kenyan statistics, depicting the national population census by county and sub-location and showing the future of Kenya for Vision 2030 and planning purposes. The Atlas booklet that was for sale as a hardback (but also available as a PDF), was produced by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and first published in 2014. 


Young population of voters: There are both advantages and disadvantages to Kenya’s youthful population. It represents potential for the future, but it also increases dependency rates and reduces economic participation in the present. Employment creation will be the key to tapping the potential of the expected future labour force and future market opportunities. This implies that job creation is not only a national priority as stipulated in Kenya’s Vision 2030, but that it also requires efforts at the sub-national level; because grossly uneven population distribution will provoke major and increasing migration flows when today’s children and youths reach adulthood. This points to the major role that devolved governance will play in harnessing these potentials and facing the challenges posed by high proportions of young people in the population.

Female economic power: The 2009 census indicates that females head 32% of households in Kenya. This means that females head 2.8 million households, or one in every three. In a basically patriarchal society that assigns household leadership to one person and one gender, this is a high value. It implies that men are absent in one-third of all Kenyan households; in these households, women make the majority of the decisions concerning household matters and livelihoods.

Inequality at the Coast: Kenya’s overall Gini coefficient is 0.45. This value is comparatively high, higher than in neighbouring countries, and means that inequalities are quite pronounced at the national level. This reflects the economic diversity in the country, in particular the gradients between urban economic hubs and rural areas and between high-potential agricultural areas and very poor semi-arid and arid regions. The value is also typical of a nation on the verge of becoming a transition country, exhibiting rapid growth in economic centres and expanding secondary and tertiary sectors.

Purchasing Power is in towns: In 2006 prices, Kenya’s mean per person monthly expenditure for goods and services is KSh 3,430. If a cumulative inflation rate of 93% is applied in line with 2013 prices, this national mean rises to KSh 6,620. By this estimate, an average Kenyan family of five with two parents and three school-age children spends about KSh 26,000 per month on goods and services in 2013 prices. This average monthly estimate includes all monetary expenditures as well as consumption of self-produced farm, garden, and livestock products according to their market value. But the clearest pattern to emerge is that of the rural–urban divide. 

The map illustrates how virtually all of Kenya’s major towns exhibit higher mean per person monthly expenditures than their rural environs. The divide is further underscored by the fact that the two highest classes of mean per person monthly expenditure – i.e. KSh 6,000 to 10,000, and more than KSh 10,000 (in 2006 prices) – are found almost exclusively in urban settings. By contrast, the expenditure classes between KSh 1,000 and 3,500 are mostly found in rural sub-locations.

This emphasizes the role of towns as national and regional economic hubs featuring growing secondary and tertiary sectors and the bulk of formal employment opportunities leading to continued rural–urban migration. At the same time, it is interesting to note that the phenomenon of slums in the major cities is not visible in the rural–urban graph: The very lowest expenditure class (below KSh 1,000) is almost exclusively found in rural settings. Multidimensional poverty measures could help to better capture poverty in urban areas.

Base Titanium – Kenya’s Flagship Mine

Base Titanium was recently made a Kenya Vision 2030 Flagship Project for the mining sector and continue to share updates as part of their commitment under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

For the financial year which ended in  June 2017, they had sales of $215 million, and a net profit of $21 million, compared to a loss of net loss of $20 million the year before. They reduced net debt by $76 million during the year, then reduced it further by $12 million to stand at $87 million at the end of the September 2017 quarter. Base Titanium are still owed $21 million in VAT tax refunds and all payments are still done to the national government though Kenya’s new mining law (currently in limbo) calls for separate payments to be made to the county government and the community. They are also still paying royalties at the rate of 2.5% while accruing another 2.5% in anticipation of the government changing this to 5%.

Base Titanium now moves into a second phase of production of the Kwale mineral sands project, investing $30 million in a more intense process of increased mining capacity, as they aim to maintain production of 450,000 of ilmenite, 88,000 tons of rutile and 33,000 tons of zircon a year even as they also target to retain their safety performance record which saw no lost time injuries in the last quarter. 

Base Titanium will also shift to a different field (South Dune) at Kwale in two years when the current field (Central Dune) is exhausted and which they have commenced rehabilitating the depleted areas with vegetation. 

They are also waiting to commence more exploration in Tanzania, in December, and in Kenya, in 2018. In Tanzania, where they hold 5 prospecting licenses, they await availability of drilling rigs while in Kenya they await completion of a report by a new mineral rights board for the Cabinet Secretary for Mining to approve further exploration in Kwale. 

Base Titanium has also spent $10 million ( – about Kshs 1 billion) on the community development projects. These include educational support that has seen 1,000 get scholarships in Kwale, while in agriculture, they are working with the national and the Kwale county government to assist over 900 local farmers and groups grow crops like potato, sorghum, and even cotton that is exported to Bangladesh for garment-making.

 Tatu City Gets Muddy 

Last Friday saw an extraordinary press event in Nairobi. Stephen Jennings, co-founder of Renaissance Group, called a press conference along with the new Chairman of Tatu City, Pius Ngugi, and the acting CEO Anthony Njoroge.

Jennings said that while he and his foreign investor partners have contributed over $100 million that so far has gone into, long-delayed, Tatu City since launch , the local shareholders, mainly Vimal Shah and Nahashon Nyagah, have not put a single shilling into the eight year old project, and have instead worked to frustrate the project through direct and indirect court cases, the latest of which came with a move to freeze the bank  accounts of the ongoing project – and which will stop their payments to staff, contractors and for taxes due. He challenged the duo to pay the bills for the project, now that they have frozen the accounts.

Tatu City's Stephen Jennings and Pius Ngugi He said they are not serious business partners, have no shareholding or directorship and have been disruptive for unclear reasons.  Jennings said that Shah and Nyagah have a personal business dispute in Mauritius that has carried over into Kenya resulting in them trying to extort Tatu City.

Jennings regretted that there have been allegations with racist undertones that he is a Russian and that Russian money is forcing out local shareholders – noting that he’s not Russian and there is no Russian money in Tatu City. He said that through Renaissance, they were among the first to the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative ten years ago and have published over 3,000 research reports and a book to back that.

He said $100 million has been put into what can easily be a $1 billion project that will create thousands of jobs and house 60-80,000 people. Already 50% of residential properties are sold, along with 80% of commercial and industrial ones and infrastructure is still being put in place.

He said the signals are bad for other potential foreign investors, if such a serious project, could be sabotaged by local minority partners. Tatu which was their first City Project has now fallen behind other African ones.

Tatu City & Vision 2030

Tatu City was endorsed as a Kenya Vision 2030 project and an event was held in Nairobi to celebrate the signing and also clear up some misconceptions about the project.

The Future is Urban Mugo Kibati said urbanization is the future, the world over, and it will happen without proper planning, Vimal Shah said that while Kenya is currently about 30% urbanized, by 2030 Kenya (which is just 212 months away), this will have risen to an urbanized population of about 75% urbanized. Are they going to stay in poorly planned cities or better-articulated developments?

What is it? Dr. Gituro Wainaina, who is one of the Vision 2030 secretariat directors said that the message must get out that Tatu is not a gated community, it is where you work or where you sleep. Later it was mentioned that it was a brand new city, that will complement, not replace Nairobi, and at completion will be worth $5 billion – the single biggest FDI injection. It looks new and different from other projects (every toilet in Tatu City will flush with recycled water. Every roof should harvest rainwater!) and the Ruiru Council has embraced the project, are building capacity to manage with Tatu and are are going to reap the benefits of the project, which might lead other municipalities and counties to do that.

Vision 2030 is not about Government Projects: Mugo Kibati said that Vision 2030 is not about government projects and they envision that the majority of projects will be by private investments or government partnerships with the private sector. He said that the Government is only meant to be a facilitator that provides incentives – adding that with Tatu on one hand and the government’s planned technology city in Konza on the other, he is watching the race to see which will complete theirs faster – the public sector or the private sector?

Nairobi needs 10 Tatu Cities: Tatu will do create 3,000 houses a year in a country that has an annual housing shortage of 35,000 to 40,000 per year. Nyagah said that Nairobi needs another 10 Tatu’s to barely satisfy the demand and that they welcomed other mega housing developments that have been inspired such as Migaa, Thika Greens, and on other towns like Eldoret (Sergoit)

Is Tatu is Destroying Farmland? At a time when the country can’t feed itself adequately, this has been partly attributed to the use of land has been attributed to land use Mugo Kibati said that current 60% farmers in Kenya, are feeding about 80% of the citizens. In future, the government would have to make some harsh decisions about denoting land as agrarian, commercial, residential etc. (in a Land Use Masterplan). Having a 70% urban population in 2030 will still leave 30% in rural areas which is still high. The current subdivision of arable land is unsustainable, and the government has to get more people out of farms and find them employment in other sectors; this will leave arable farming to farmers, who will mechanize, and invest in-agro business; i.e. Farming should be done by professionals, as it is in developed countries like the US that are able more than feed their countries and export surplus with less than 5% of their population being farmers.

M-Tatu Mortgage?: Nyagah challenged James Mwangi, the absent chairman of vision 2030 (who’s also the Equity bank CEO), to create to create a mortgage, where someone can repay a daily amount e.g. kshs 500 per day and buy a house and name it M-Tatu.