A breakfast meeting was held today to discuss plans for a multi-media technology park to be located in Athi River / Kitengela area. This is one of the key milestones in the ICT policy, which was approved by the Cabinet, but is yet to be passed by Parliament.
The multi media park is to be modelled along the likes of Egypt’s Smart Village and Ebene in Mauritius. Microsoft has already signed up to be the first tenant of the park and has offered to assist in its design.
The first park may be hosted by the Export Processing Zone Authority on their 1,000 acres in Athi River. In addition to tax benefits, the zone already offers various benefits including, cheap rents, easily obtainable immigration permits for companies (guaranteed for general manger, technical manager, financial manager and 2 directors), connected with fibre optic cable, and guaranteed electricity supply from KPLC.
Athi River/Kitengela is close to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and over 20,000 new housing units are being built in the area. Some major problems facing the area are water shortages and traffic congestion. But the traffic problems could be alleviated by the (soon) construction of dual carriageway road from Machakos to Nairobi and removal of the mlolongo weighbridge to a location further down Mombasa road.
The Minister (Mutahi Kagwe) and permanent secretary (Bitange Ndemo) of Information & Communications are a dynamic pair whos’ vision is to make Kenya be known as an ICT destination, not just for tourism, politics, coffee, and tea. The two are very passionate about ICT and how the country and people can use ICT to achieve development and business goals.
Minister Kagwe also said
- The government would set up an ICT board to market the country as an ICT destination (similar to the Kenya tourism board).
- Confirmed the country would go it alone (& look for support elsewhere) on the EASSy submarine cable project if Kenyan demands for time, quality, and cost are not met. (SA is to blame for most delays)
- Said the recent Kengen fundraising demonstrates the country has enough capital to meet its development needs, if channelled properly.
- Called on media to hype business in Kenya, not endless political stories.
- Called on the business community to be more assertive in challenging the government when they feel aggrieved.
- Is convinced Kenya can put up a better park than Egypt
and invited the private sector to also set up their own parks with the government giving incentives.
- Said ICT products would be zero-rated in the upcoming budget in June 2006
- Rural Internet: Telkom Kenya will begin rolling out wireless CDMA this month with affordable units costing about $30. Also, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is willing to waive some licensing charges for companies that want to start rural ISP’s.
- Business incubators: Incubator policy is expected to be passed by Parliament by the end of 2006.
- Training: The Kenya College of Communications & Technology (KCCT) has been transferred from Telkom Kenya to the CCK to better serve the country’s ICT training needs.