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Kenya’s Konza tech city marred by procurement scandal

ndemo

Kenya's planned $10 billion technology park, Konza Technology City, has been marred by controversy, following allegations that the purchase of a 5,000 acre piece of land where the city is to be built has been in contravention with procurement regulations.

Kenya's permanent secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, is being investigated for allegedly flouting procurement regulations during the purchase of the land. The land was bought from Malili Ranch Limited in Machakos County at 1 billion shillings ($12 million).

The Konza City project is planned to host a technology park, university campus, international business district, science park and residential properties and is expected to transform Kenya into the 'Silicon Savannah'.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating the permanent secretary along with the ministry’s chief procurement officer for purchasing the land through direct procurement instead of an open tender.

A report, cited by the Daily Nation newspaper, shows that the anti-corruption commission has kick-started fresh investigations in the matter, after previous attempts to have the permanent secretary prosecuted failed.

The EACC indicates that the file was forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions on April 2, 2012, with recommendations that the permanent secretary and the ministry’s chief procurement officer be charged with the offences of careless failure to comply with the law relating to procurement of goods contrary to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

“Investigations revealed that the procurement for the purchase of the land for the ICT Park was not done in conformity with the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act and the Regulations,” read the EACC report.

Ndemo has denied the allegations, saying that competitive bidding was undertaken before purchase of the land.

“The Cabinet had authorised us to buy 10,000 acres but following valuation by the Ministry of Lands that put the price per acre at Sh200,000 we settled for 5,000 acres which were purchased through a competitive tender,” said Ndemo.

These allegations could scare off foreign investors who the government is hoping will take up space in the land to facilitate development of Konza City which will be Eastern Africa’s first and only ‘technopolis’.

Last week, the ministry hosted the 'Konza Technology Park conference' where investors from Europe, US, Asia and Africa were present to assess investment opportunities ahead of the projects' planned ground breaking ceremony in three months.

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