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?
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