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Kenyan ICT park project to continue

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – Development of the proposed 5,000 acre technology park in Athi River could start in the next five months.

Information Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said on Monday that environmental impact assessments were being carried out on the land in Machakos District and should be completed in two months.

“By August we should be able to see something on the ground. The consultants are doing environmental and social studies. By April 12, we will get the presentation on that and by May we will have the presentation on the model (of the park),” he told Capital Business.

The Sh76 billion park is envisaged to be an advanced, e-business, high-technology centre which will incorporate a 5,000-seat Business Process Outsourcing park, a science park and residential estate with amenities. In the initial plans of the project, five hotels were to be constructed around the convention center but the demand had now risen to 14 and social amenities such as schools, hospitals and universities.

Several foreign investors have already expressed interest in setting up these facilities which would propel the country as an ICT hub.

The project has however run into problems with accusations that some officials at the Information Ministry may have colluded to fleece farmers who sold land to the government for the park.

Dr Ndemo said contrary to reports, the purchase of the parcel of land was above board and the government has already paid one billion shillings for it.

The allegations came a day before he was due to meet senior officials of American ICT firm NetHope that plans to set up operations in Kenya. He warned politicians that they risk driving investors away if they continue to make unsubstantiated corruption allegations against some ministries.

“It hurts me that we can kill investments even where investment is coming by itself simply because there are local political differences,” he said.

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The PS urged politicians not to interfere with such national projects as Kenyans would be the main losers if such projects are not implemented.

“Let them leave us alone so that we develop the country. I have no way of responding to politicians because I’m a technical person and I have no intention of looking for office,” he said adding that the Kenyan public would be the losers if the politicians continued to interfere with such projects.

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