By Peter Branton
Tecom has finally signed off its $350m SmartCity project with the Kerala government.
Tecom Investments has finally signed off its $350 million SmartCity project with the Kerala government, ending three years of negotiations.
Representatives of SmartCity, a joint venture between Tecom and Sama Dubai, signed the final agreement to establish SmartCity Kochi today at a ceremony in Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala.
Based on the same model as Dubai Internet City (DIC) and Dubai Media City (DMC), SmartCity Kochi will be one of the largest business parks in India, helping to attract knowledge-industry companies to Kerala.
SmartCity and the Kerala government said they expected SmartCity Kochi to attract US$350 million worth of investment, creating 90,000 jobs.
Ahmad Bin Byat, executive chairman of Tecom Investments, described the deal as "a win-win situation" for both parties. "Partnering with the government of Kerala and the industry, we will develop SmartCity Kochi into a new hub for excellence."
"SmartCity Kochi will play a key role in tapping Kerala's enormous potential for the development of key industries like ICT and media," V S Achuthanandan, the Chief Minister of Kerala, who attended the signing ceremony, said in the statement announcing the deal. "We look forward to working with SmartCity to develop a project that brings wide-reaching benefits to the economy and the people of Kerala."
Achuthanandan had led opposition to the original deal that had been agreed with Tecom by the previous government, the United Democratic Front (UDF), while it was in power.
Terms of that deal have been heavily revised; SmartCity is now paying US$24.5 million for a 99-year lease on the land, as opposed to the US$6.38 million it had reportedly agreed to buy the land outright.
SmartCity Kochi is now the second SmartCity project to be signed off globally, with Malta having also committed to a similar project last month.