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George Washington University

Publication Date

Spring 2015

Program Name

Kenya: Urbanization, Health, and Human Rights

Abstract

This paper explores Kenya’s ambitious Konza Technology City. In 2008 the Kenyan government unveiled its plan to construct a city from scratch 60 kilometers outside of the nation’s capital, Nairobi. Konza Technology City is a flagship project for Kenya Vision 2030, the country’s development program covering the period 2008 to 2030. The new city is expected to relieve Nairobi of some of its traffic and overcrowding issues, and also support the country’s growing technology sector. Konza City is just one of many proposed city plans all over sub-Saharan Africa reflecting a growing phenomenon. Due to the challenges many African cities are facing—around sanitation, overcrowding, and unplanned growth—many African countries, with the help of international investors, are planning to build new cities adjacent to larger existing urban centers to address some of these issues. These cities are branded as “smart” and “futuristic,” and provide leisure facilities, business opportunities and social amenities for their residents. However, while these project have gained a lot of excitement and support, there are many concerns over these plans. Critics argue in a part of the world where many people live on less than US$2 a day, lack access to clean water, health facilities, and proper sanitation these cities will not lead to meaningful development and will serve only a small elite.

The project seeks to understand the expectations of residents near the Konza City site in Malili, Machakos Town and Old Konza Town as well as assess the impact this city will have on these communities. In addition this project examines key differences between community expectations and government and professional expectations for the project. Ten interviews were conducted over a month period in Malili, Machakos Town, Old Konza Town and Nairobi to gather information. The results show that lack of local involvement in the project has resulted in some key disconnects between community members and the government. In addition while many argue information technology has the potential to change the lives of Kenyan citizens, it remains unclear whether Konza will.

Disciplines

Business | Civic and Community Engagement | Inequality and Stratification | Infrastructure | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Technology and Innovation | Work, Economy and Organizations

 

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