Ethiopia: Virtual ICT City Under Construction

Computing

Construction of Ethiopia's first Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Park, under the supervision of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MoCIT), has begun.

During the first phase, an IT business incubation building, administration and data centres, as well as an MoCIT building is being constructed at an estimated cost of one billion Birr, on 70ht of the total 200ht allotted for the par, located in an area known as Yerer in Bole Sub City on the outskirts of the capital.

"We hope that the first phase will be finished by January 2012," Brehane Keleta, manager of the project, told Fortune.

The construction of the first phase coincides with the goal of MoCIT to establish a robust ICT infrastructure as well as build up local human capital, according to Brehane.

This is expected to generate employment and offer high-level training to catalyse commercial and retail businesses in the surrounding areas as well as create linkage opportunities in the areas of construction as well as supply of materials and food, according to MoCIT.

The park is meant to support IT manufacturing; international IT services, such as call centres for western countries; business process outsourcing, which includes digitising data for companies; and software services like developing software programmes and selling the licences, according to the manager.

He referred to India's success in generating billions of dollars of revenues from what he claimed are 40 ICT parks built in little over a decade, which is what he said the government wants to emulate in the long run. The feasibility study for the project was done by WiPro IT Consulting, a company from India.

"The park's incubation centre will help local start-ups that lack the necessary financial or technical capabilities by offering them low rent, fast and reliable internet access, management training, and support," Brehane told Fortune. "The aim is to link local IT companies with international ones."

Along with the establishment of the ICT Park Corporation, with a capital of five billion Birr, the ICT Park Project was approved by the Council of Ministers, in March 2010.

Upon its completion, the park will feature a business zone, assembly and warehouse zones, as well as separate zones for commercial use and administration, and a knowledge park; as well as commercial and institutional facilities to create a virtual ICT city, according to Brehane. It is also expected to generate 350,000 jobs, he claimed.

"The second phase of the project will start after assessing the market potential and viability of the first phase," said Brehane. "It will mainly be dedicated towards meeting the needs of multinational IT companies or IT enabled service providers."