The Kenyan government has signed an agreement with UN Habitat to standardize the development of Kenya’s Konza Techno City.

Thursday’s agreement between the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) which is overseeing the development the Konza city project and the UN Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat) will see Konza City serve as a case study and benchmark for future developments within the continent.

The Principal Secretary (Deputy Minister) for Information Communication Technology (ICT), Victor Kyalo, said the adoption of a standard in the development of Konza Techno city would form the guiding framework for the planning of other cities across the continent as governments seek to strike a balance between growing urban populations and limited resources.

“The City guidelines developed in partnership with UN-Habitat will support us in overcoming the challenges currently faced by other cities such as Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kisumu,” Kyalo said.

“The guidelines will ensure that we provide an environment that will foster growth through job creation and prosperity, without straining land and other available resources.”

Konza City is located about 60 km south of the capital, Nairobi, along the road leading to the port city of Mombasa. It will host ICT companies and will act as an ICT hub for the country.

The city is planned to enable foreign companies to outsource ICT services from Kenya including business process outsourcing and software development. It will also act as an incubator of ICT start-ups.

The partnership will enable UN-Habitat to serve as KoTDA’s technical adviser on planning and development of housing guidelines. This will include urban and human dimension guidelines, which will be adopted for Konza City’s development process. It will also see training for KoTDA staff.

Prof Oyeyinka Oyebanji, the Director of UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Africa, said most African cities were unplanned developments which have grown over time, driven largely by commercial and economic considerations.

“As a result, close to 60 per cent of Africa’s urban population lives in slum areas with little or no access to quality housing and social amenities. Smart Cities like Konza can demonstrate that it is possible to offer a better quality of life for the entire urban population,” Oyebanji said.

“We as UN-Habitat are keen on supporting Kenyan government priorities and this being a major flagship project under Kenya Vision 2030 gives us a good opportunity to contribute to the building a first of its kind IT city in Kenya,” Oyebanji said.

Konza City CEO Engineer John Tanui said Konza’s Smart City Concept, which is the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa seeks to offer better living standards for all people living and working within the city by creating provisions for mixed income settlements.

“The support from UN-Habitat sends to investors the signal that planned developments such as Konza Techno City will redefine the work life balance for urban populations in the future,” Tanui said.