Shady Italian firm wins multi-billion contract to build Kenya’s first smart city

In 2014 prosecutors in Milan opened an investigation into the rigging of a tender worth almost 100 million euros for the Milan Expo.

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ICM beat three other companies; Central Electrical International, China CAMC and Zhongmei Gibb to oversee the building of roads, water and sewerage infrastructure within the 400 acre phase one of Konza City.

“Construction starts in July and ICM is required to build horizontal infrastructure as well as all the basic amenities and build a water reclamation plant and a reservoir for the city,”  Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KOTDA) chief executive, John Tanui said.

The company has previously done other projects in Kenya including the rehabilitation of Maai Mahiu-Narok road, Webuye – Malaba road and Eldoret-Turbo-Webuye-road.

Questions have however been raised over how the Italian firm won the multi-billion tender despite having been embroiled in a number of corruption scandals back home.

Enrico Maltauro, ICM chief executive and shareholder, was found to have been among influential people, who conspired to pay bribes in exchange for contracts and placed under house arrest.

The European Commission (EC) also temporarily banned the company before later dropping the ban after the company moved to court.

In a bid to clean up its image the company forced out Mr. Maltauro by having him sell off all his shares and relinquish his position.

The construction firm also changed its name, appointed a new chief executive, Alberto Liberatori, and a new board of directors.

KOTDA has however defended its decision to award ICM the contract, arguing that it had carried out due diligence in the tendering process, with the help of Tetra Tech, that American firm that was engaged to advise on the development and implementation of the techno city’s master plan.

KoTDA added ICM had submitted a litigation history and was found not to have any cases that contravened the Public Procurement Act and could therefore not be disqualified from bidding for the job.

Konza is a key part of Kenya’s vision 2030 blueprint and the government says it has committed $703 million in the project that is supposed to cement the country’s role as a regional tech hub.

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