Konza Tech City goes “smart” to attract talent

Konza Tech City is to be constructed in line with the “smart city” concept, according to Kenya ICT Board CEO Paul Kukubo, as the city aims to be as competitive as possible in attracting talent from around the world.

Kukubo made the comments at the AITEC East Africa Summit held in Nairobi, held under the theme ‘Smart cities > smart societies > smart enterprises’.

A smart city is one that incorporates the use of ICT and data in its planning, providing e-services to citizens and using data in order to improve accessibility, public safety and service provision. Kukubo is determined to use the US$7 billion Konza project as a demonstration of Kenya’s ability to build a modern city from scratch that would attract the most talented individuals.

The importance of cities such as Konza attracting the most talented individuals was highlighted by Lynn Reyes, Smarter Cities Business Development Manager at IBM Middle East and Africa.

“Attracting and retaining skills and talent is crucial to cities,” she said. “Talent goes where they feel like they can live, work, play and thrive.”

She said ICT and data could be utilized to ensure that modern cities in Africa appeal to the kind of people who will help the city succeed in becoming a significant economic base.

“We have the power to know and with that power we have greater responsibility. The great thing is that this information is available to us to mine and understand. It is an information explosion and it is not going to get smaller.”

Reyes said that ICT enabled interaction with citizens and better services. Integration of systems would allow planners to make better decisions and coordinate resources, while also responding better in an emergency situation.

“Cities can be planned smart from the get-go,” Kukubo said. “Smarter cities are cities designed around the concept that everything is measured.” He put the sensible use of data at the centre of this plan, saying “that sort of intelligence allows people to plan”.

“We should know how many cars pass into Nairobi city every day,” he said. “You can take that same concept to schools and hospitals. We believe that ICT can play a major role in making us work smarter. At the core is data. Without data, we cannot plan.”

 “It is time for cities on this continent to show what they can do,” said Reyes. “Businesses are going to come because of them. Businesses are going to stick around because of them.”

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