Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Welcome to Malili Technopolis!

Join us in a little trivia today and guess where this could be:



No, this is not the latest development of a new community in Dubai. Have a closer look:



No, it isn't the skyline of Hong Kong either.

So what is it then?

This is Kenya! Feel welcome to Malili Technopolis. Malili Technopolis will be a new town in Kenya with facilities to support Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) ventures and a science park, a convention centre, shopping mall, hotels, international schools and health facilities. Malili is located about 60 km southeast of Nairobi. Similar cities already exist in Malaysia (PutraJaya), Panama (Pacifico), the Philippines (Subic-Clark) and China (Shenzhen).

According to Brian Longwe of Chanzo Capital, this project looks like a winner and will definitely not become another 'white elephant' being promoted by the Government. But me, I have some doubts... I still remember all our failed Nyayo projects: Nyayo Pioneer Cars, Nyayo Bus Services, Nyayo Tea Zones, and Nyayo School Milk. So are we headed for something similar? Hopefully not, but maybe yes. The main story in the January issue of The Anchor (written by Martin Masai) for example insinuates that a lot of theft and corruption may already be involved in the project. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has been hired for advisory services to the project, but they don't have a very nice track record, so I am not sure whether that's good or bad.

In the same technology sector, but on a completely different scale, another very interesting project has just been launched: iHub: Nairobi's Tech Innovation Hub. iHub is an open space for technologists, investors, tech companies (and hackers, sic) in the Nairobi area. It is a tech community facility with a focus on young entrepreneurs, web and mobile phone programmers and designers. It is part open community workspace (co-working), part investor and VC hub and part incubator. Unlike Malili Technopolis, I really believe in this project: it is simple, realistic, and addresses a real need. And yes, iHub may be small, but at least it has enormous potential to create real impact. iHub will open on March 3rd, 2010 and there's currently a design contest going on for the best logo for iHub.

What do you think of these two very different, almost contrasting, projects? Will they succeed?

27 comments:

Andrea Bohnstedt said...

Pretty pictures, but won't happen.

Our Kid said...

Looks quite interesting. If it happens by 2068, I would be glad.

savvy said...

How did you know I'd guess Dubai for the first one?

Ok, the center will not happen but the open source thingy just might. Trouble is, the open source might face a lot of competition from the internet where almost everything has been developed. All one has to do is google.

coldtusker said...

In my lifetime?

But you could have said the same about Dubai 30 year ago...

Wamathai said...

I like the Malili Technopolis idea but i doubt that it will happen in my lifetime.

Maria said...

This is very interesting and encouraging! Finally, we will be able to create thousands of jobs for your creative and hardworking youth who only need opportunities. Why would we water such a project down and say it will happen in 2068? We have everything as a country to make this happen and we should all support it!! Very proudly Kenyan!!!

Maria said...

Hope our young people are watching Malili Technopolis and preparing themselves to take full advantage of the upcoming opportunities. This will be our own local Silicon Valley and Bangalore. Before we realize young Kenyan billionaires will emerge in our digital industry and they'll be asking how they got there. This is a golden opportunity that is bound to change our country. We have waited so long for the fiber optic cables, now we must be ready to maximize the affordable bandwidth and put our young people where they belong! Creating 500,000 jobs for our youth through technology is finally within our reach!! Congratulations GOK for creating the enabling environment for our youth!

kachwanya said...

Great ideas
I the best thing to do here is to keep on following and encouraging both projects to succeed. In the end analysis most Kenyans will highly benefit from them.

Wyndago said...

Woow, how come I have not heard about this? I just hope Kenyans would be involved in the actual building of this town, instead of it being something done for us. That way we would develop a sense of pride and we all know that helps...

Kellie said...

Vision 3000 together with Mutula Kilonzo's Nairobi Metropolis plan.

The iHub on the other hand will most definitely happen and make an impact.

I'm a firm believer in starting small and growing.

Oman's Collective Intelligence said...

Hi, i'm from Oman, nice blog. We also have a similar project called the Blue City....it won't happen before 2100!! I hope yours will!

Rafiki said...

@ Andrea Bohnstedt: Are you a pessimist or a realist?

@ Our Kid: What's so magic about 2068?

@ savvy: I just knew, I have a sixth sense.

@ coldtusker: I still love Dubai more than Malili.

@ Wamathai: I hope you are very old, so that it can still happen quite soon.

@ Maria: Thanks for the encouraging remarks!

@ kachwanya: At least the ideas are there (not all countries even have ideas). So if we all go for it, maybe it IS possible.

@ Wyndago: That's why we are here, to keep you updated.
What would you like to do in the construction?

@ Kellie: Think Big, Start Small, Act Now. You got it, babe.

@ Oman's Collective Intelligence: Wow, how did you arrive at this place all the way from Oman?

Andrea Bohnstedt said...

I am a country risk analyst (that's an -ist, too) and publish www.ratio-magazine.com.

Maria, asking some common-sense questions about this project is not 'watering it down'. Sadly enthusiasm alone doesn't make a multi-billion dollar project work.

Most of the information is at your finger tips, a google search or phone call away, so look into it:

Have you seen any detailed plans of this, i.e. any sign that it's been broken down into practical detail?

The original of the building copied from Koolhaas' CCTV building in Beijing cost USD600m. Give the property developers a call if they see the private sector investing in this - government won't have the money.

How many tech graduates does Kenya produce per year? And not every tech company will employ a vast number of 'youth' (whoever they are).

Right now, the Malili project is, as usual, embroiled in allegations that a 'brokering' consulting firm has taken a huge mark up from the land sale for politicians and the politically connected. If this is how the project starts, then I have very little faith that the management capacity do pull off something of this size is there. Same with Nairobi Metropolitan, same with Lamu port: Finance and technical capacity in government are restrictions, as is corruption.

davidbaer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rafiki said...

@ Andrea Bohnstedt: Thanks for the nice analysis, looks like you are a realist.

@ davidbaer: No spamming here please.

Pious Muiro said...

Ha ha IFC! the same WB guys that sold you short on RVR to Roy Puffadder ? Nice choice of advisers. A strong start. Now just retouch the images with dust and rubbish heaps ......maybe hordes of rioting tribespeople and murky green waterways. Maybe a dash of Great German Luxury SUV with flags clogging the potholed r.......
never mind.

Andrea Bohnstedt said...

:)

It made for a useful column topic, though:
http://www.ratio-magazine.com/201002031883/Ratio-Blog/Ratio-Blog-Malili-Technopolis-Sci-Fi.html

Rafiki said...

@ Pious Muiro: Enough advisors everywhere! But implementers...

@ Andrea Bohnstedt: Nice piece in Ratio Magazine. I hope they'll also get a contrasting opinion from one of the great supporters of Malili.

Marvin Tumbo said...

What about using that money and setting up a couple of iHubs across the country? This will be more realistic and will create the impetus for having such a multi-billion dollar project in the future.

Many people have said this of the Malili thingy and I don't mind saying it at-least one more time. The high-rise building are a waste and just a way of getting money into the right pockets. Most tech hubs are plain building with great minds working in them.

And as Andrea Bohnstedt (whom we should listen to based on the quality of work she does at Ratio) says, there is nothing more to back the photo-shop creations.

And if you are a realist, you must be pessimistic about this project. That is the reality.

Regards

Generootito said...

This is a millennium miracle in Kenya

donald said...

Hey All,

This is a wonderful project, and instead of being pessimists, we should embrace it at look for opportunities presented by it.

So anyone who can hook me up with a nearby plot??? Kindly let me knw so that i can buy one..

francis said...

well this is possible,the only thing here we have to remove old people in the GOV.because this people they bring corruption in the GOV,they have money they are rich they don't belive other can say anything.so the only thing here GOV can although rise the project to the people who fund the money.and that dream can came true and even it won't take long.but i think the time it take long,this people start thinking how they can steal the money.this can happen in kenya i know that 100%+ but lets hope that GOD bless them.

E-Nyce said...

Damn, I'm months too late to ask:

Andrea Bohnstedt, will you marry me?!

I wrote just about the same thing on Hash's blog. Got scolded--again--as a naysayer.

Simon Mulandi said...

An administration camp is in place. The PS ministry of local gov't has directed that the rlevant councils plan the town 10 km radius. My concern is that do these councils have the capacity and if they do what have they done so far. have they set up a planning and approvals office in that area or investors will hav to travel for kilomtres to have their approvals done. Prof.karega mutahi you need to direct that an office be set up at malili to reduce the time it will take to have the approvals within the shortest time possible.

Philip said...

Many hotels charge a "delivery charge" of several dollars added to the already steep prices.

Hoteis Em Joao Pessoa

Friend of flight said...

I consider myself an investor, I'm about to go to the site as I type this message, I have bought a 7.8 acre parcel in the vicinity and I fly model airplanes on it as I wait for the work to unfold. As of 22nd July 2011, on ground there are earth movers and heavy machinery on site, they are halfway done putting concrete posts to fence 5000 acres..........

The down side is for us buyers in the vicinity, fraud is so high and 2 offices pose as the custodians each office denouncing the other but they will issue receipts and transfer the plot to your name.......you get a Ballot card and allotment letter........

For me, flying my rc planes on that plot has made it known to the locals it is taken by that plane guy and it's been a year no one has surfaced or tried to buy that piece.

All I can do is hope, we get our act together because we all stand to gain if the project passes.......

friends of Flight said...

http://www.friendsofflightventures.com/apps/photos/photo?photoid=134309073

Was on Ground the signs are there fencing is being done By national youth Service its almost done.....