Kenya, Korea synergy boost economy with launch of Economic Innovation Partnership Program at Konza – KBC

Kenya and the Republic of Korea partnership has launched the third year of the Economic Innovation Partnership Program (EIPP) at Konza Technopolis in an event signifying potent economic collaboration. This initiative is a major thrust for Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic development goals, focusing on establishing flagship projects like smart farms, incubation complexes, and renewable energy—leveraging innovation for robust economic growth. The Konza technopolis is set to bolster job creation, benefiting local communities and drawing significant local and international investments. Currently, Konza is a thriving employment hub, providing work for approximately 4,000 people across various sectors, thereby injecting dynamism into the community’s economic fabric. EIPP, which actively supports Kenya’s Vision 2030, has been pivotal in championing innovation and entrepreneurship while contributing directly to the Sustainable Development Goals—particularly those emphasizing economic growth, industry, innovation, and sustainable energy. Initiated in March 2022 through a Memorandum of Understanding between Kenya’s Ministry of ICT and Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, the EIPP reflects the enduring relationship between the two nations. Principal Secretary for ICT, Eng. John Tanui, has highlighted the “cordial relationship” between Kenya and South Korea—spanning from tech collaboration to infrastructural development—cemented by shared values since Kenya’s independence. An auspicious ceremony graced by top government officials, including Eng. Tanui, Prof. Raphael Munavu of KoTDA, John Paul Okwiri, and Acting Ambassador Nam Sang Kyoo, marked the year’s launch. Addressing the gathering, PS Tanui acknowledged the considerable stride made in the last two years, with South Korea’s inputs being especially influential in areas like innovation policy and sustainable economic development. Acting Ambassador Kyoo envisions Kenya as the emerging “African silicon valley,” driven by the collective efforts to ground a smart city in Konza. Underlining the Korean government’s commitment to Kenya’s digital transformation, Ambassador Kyoo conveyed optimism for tangible, result-oriented outcomes from this collaborative endeavor. Pointing towards a deep-seated, sixty-year bilateral relationship, Ambassador Kyoo emphasized a strengthened alliance between Kenya and South Korea, marked by President William Ruto’s upcoming visit to East Asia. He assured, “The Embassy of the Republic of Korea will spare no effort in supporting Kenya to create this new industrial ecosystem and lead economic growth.” EIPP’s ambition is to execute 3 to 5 annually selected projects over four years, carving out mid and long-term strategies to refine legal frameworks, infrastructure planning, and achieve sustainable financing solutions. Several Korean firms already have engaged under the program’s third year, directing consultations for innovative projects like smart farming and tech incubation centers in Konza. Prof. Munavu from KoTDA revealed the advanced progress of three pivotal EIPP ventures—ranging from smart city frameworks to startup ecosystems and masterplans for regional transport networks. The technopolis has also realized a major achievement with phase one infrastructure nearing completion and attracting over a hundred investors. The establishment of the Open University of Kenya (OUK) within Konza Technopolis marks another milestone in the city’s expansion. KOTRA’s Managing Director Eom Ik Hyun affirmed Korea’s commitment to Kenya’s vision and shared a hopeful outlook on the continued partnership, stating, “Together, we can build a future where innovation thrives, prosperity abounds, and our friendship endures.” This partnership has yielded a wealth of knowledge through joint seminars and workshops involving Korean research teams and Kenyan government personnel. Drawing inspiration from Korea’s Sangham Digital Media City, these collaborations have led to significant project approvals, like a 282.9 million USD plan, set to shape Kenya’s technological landscape soon. Konza Technopolis is expected to be a significant contributor to the Kenyan economy, with an anticipated injection of Sh2 billion into the national GDP. It stands as a testament to what can be achieved through shared aspirations, mutual respect, and collaborative innovation—setting a benchmark for strategic international cooperation in developing smart cities.