· Hon. Joe Mucheru, CS, ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs
· Hon. Maureen Mwaka, CAS ICT
· Chairman of the Board of KONZA, Dr. Reuben Mutiso
· Eng. John Tanui, CEO KONZA
· Ms. Carol Kariuki, CEO KEPSA
· Members of the KONZA Board
· Distinguished participants here today
· All protocols observed.
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is an honor to join you all at the launch of the Konza Technopolis Development Authority’s (KTDA) strategic plan for 2021- 2025 and the Ajira National Report on Digital and Digitally Enabled Jobs. Konza Technopolis has been a valuable partner to UNDP and it gives us great pleasure to be a part of this 2021-2025 journey.
As we just heard, Konza Technopolis is part of an ambitious plan by the Government’s vision 2030 to drive economic growth by creating a world-class city fueled by a thriving ICT sector, superior reliable infrastructure, and a business-friendly governance system. Konza is indeed well on track to becoming that leading hub for the region attracting businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and creating millions of jobs all the while building upon and supporting the innovation ecosystem in the country.
We cannot understate the relevance of technology and innovation in the country’s development. The positive correlation between growth in the ICT industry of a city and job creation is being observed across the world in major cities like Bangkok, Bangalore and Barcelona. The relationship between cities and innovation is vital and we see how cities in Kenya have been fertile ground for innovators. From how cities are designed, to the accommodations made for creative thinking and fostering an innovation culture, the role of cities in catalyzing, triggering and spurring innovation is very critical. The capacity of cities to act as hubs, resides in their role as gateways to accessing different markets combined with a series of urban assets which include infrastructure, property, and a skilled workforce. We see that clearly in Konza’s vision.
We all have a role to play in facilitating an enabling environment for innovators to thrive. For its part, UNDP is keen to foster partnerships that build on the transformative power of digitalization, knowledge and innovation to address development challenges around the world. Globally, our recently approved Strategic Plan (2022-2025) has digital as a strategic enabler, and this is complemented by our Digital Strategy, these frameworks underpin UNDP’s determination to stay at the forefront of development thinking. At the regional level, UNDP is working towards delivering an agile UNDP Africa Digital Strategy and Programmatic Offer that is supported by a robust multi-stakeholder digital collaborative. Nationally, as part of our SDG integrator role, UNDP is bringing together other UN agencies to co-create and collaborate under the Kenya SDG Accelerator Lab as key drivers for infusing innovative approaches to development challenges such as youth unemployment as the frontier challenge, we are tackling in Kenya
The SDG Accelerator Lab is a multi-stakeholder platform under the leadership of Government, led by H.E. CS Mucheru, and aims to accelerate and stimulate the innovation ecosystem towards growth and development. The Lab forms part of the UNDP Global Accelerator Lab Network launched by the UNDP Administrator Mr. Achim Steiner in 2019. The UNDP Accelerator Lab Network is a service offering that explores new data, partnerships, solutions and testing prototypes and hypotheses to scale and grow local solutions to global and national challenges. It is an added value to the development sector in Kenya that will augment the vibrant technological innovation culture that already exists.
In collaboration with local actors the SDG Accelerator Lab seeks to identify and harness homegrown solutions that have proof of concept, with the aim of bringing them to scale, while creating an enabling environment for young innovators to conceptualize, test and deliver interventions that best work for their communities. At the heart of the Labs is to re-imagine how development work can be done differently, promoting a culture of innovation and experimentation.
The Kenya Lab consists of Multisector teams operating across 11 workstreams these are; 1. Manufacturing; 2. Agriculture; 3. Universal Health; 4. Affordable Housing; not surprising as these are the Big 4 but also 5. Fintech; 6. Smart cities; 7. Emerging technology; 8. Cyber Security; 9. Funding Mechanisms; 10. Data and Research; and finally 11. Employability.
Konza is one of the key partners of the SDG Accelerator Lab and has played a critical role in bringing different partners together to identify, profile and support local innovators in the country.
Konza has an ambitious vision, they will need all the support to realize this vision through strong partnerships. From our experience working with Konza and several other partners in this room on the Great COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, we know we can achieve this vision and we see this partnership growing and being more beneficial to the youth of Kenya.
As I conclude, let me reiterate that UNDP will remain a reliable and trusted partner to Konza, the Government and other partners and we will continue to use our SDG integrator role through the SDG Accelerator Lab to leverage opportunities within the UN system and beyond to advance this new Strategic Plan. Finally, having been part of this KONZA journey and story, I commit that wherever I may be in the world come 2030, I will make it a point to have a visit to KONZA certainly on my bucket list to see how this city has evolved and I am sure I will continue to be amazed and inspired.