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Future success for Kenya’s Konza Techno City?

James Murphy

Title: Generative Urbanization in Emerging Africa? The Case of Konza Techno City
Principal Investigator: James Murphy
Funding Agency: Regional Studies Association

Africa is experiencing an urban transition that raises significant questions as to whether its economies are being transformed structurally. In Kenya, the prospects seem particularly high as the country has experienced steady growth and urbanization since the early 2000s. In response, the country’s leaders are constructing Konza Technopolis, a “smart” urban development project that aims to establish industrial clusters in the information-communication technology (ICT), life sciences, and engineering sectors that will foster innovation, attract FDI, and create knowledge spillovers and other positive externalities to position Kenya favorably in high-tech industries globally. This study is examining the design and ongoing development of Konza in order to assess whether such a project might spur industrial transformation in Kenya. The research will determine whether outcomes such as innovation, labor market development, industrial diversification, and urban sustainability are possible and what challenges need to be addressed to ensure Konza’s success. The research will advance geographical conceptualizations of the links between urbanization and development and provide key insights for policy makers and planners.