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Israel to train start-ups at Konza tech city under new agreement

The upcoming Konza tech city has signed an agreement with Israeli city Tel Aviv to provide training for start-ups that will be hosted at the hub.

The deal signed between the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KOTDA) and the municipality of Tel Aviv will see Kenyan firms sent to Israel for technology training. 

Israel will also send experts to advise the agency and the two countries will host innovation competitions.

“They will support us in building the innovation ecosystem. We think there is plenty we can learn from them in terms of how to turn start-ups and ideas into viable businesses,” said KOTDA chief executive John Tanui yesterday.

Kenya is hoping to capitalise on Tel Aviv’s position as a global start-up hub. Over the past three decades, Israel has recorded steady economic growth driven in part by the expansion of the technology sector.

As of 2014, 1,000 new start-ups were launched every year turning the country into a favourite target market for venture capital funds.

This is the latest partnership between Konza City and a foreign government. Earlier this year, the government inked a deal with South Korea to construct a university on the site of the planned city.

READ: Kenya to pump Sh1.5bn a year into Konza varsity

The KOTDA yesterday launched its five-year strategic plan with an aim to complete the first phase of infrastructure development by 2020.

The project has been slow since it was first mooted during the Kibaki presidency. According to the agency, these delays have harmed the project’s public perception and have contributed to investors viewing the project as being “high risk”.

The authority also continues to face financial and human resource challenges, with the report pointing out that “the financial subsidy for Konza Technopolis (has been) withdrawn or reduced to a minimum”.

The KOTDA Bill, which sets out tax incentives for potential investors, has stalled since it was authored in 2014.

The Konza project could rival other upcoming smart cities in Africa, such as Ghana’s Hope City and Tanzania’s planned technology park.

The first phase of construction is taking place within a 400-acre segment within the larger 5,000 acres that the government has set aside for Konza. It is expected to cost Sh600 billion, with 10 per cent of the funds being contributed by the government.

So far the Authority has broken ground on a Sh3 billion complex that will house early investors and has set up electricity and road infrastructure.

The government says it has received 66 expressions of interest from businesses that wish to take up space on the initial 24 parcels of land set aside for leasing. The final firms to occupy this space will be selected early next year.

KOTDA also says that six local universities have shown interest in setting up campuses within the techno city.

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