A Chinese real estate group is planning to build a mega city in Nairobi’s Athi River area at an estimated cost of Sh200 billion ($2 billion), further deepening the Asian nation’s inroads into Kenya’s construction sector.
On Wednesday, Chinese construction giant, Beijing Damei Investment Company, said the project -- dubbed the Friendship City – will sit on about 1,200 acres of land in Athi River and the groundbreaking will start later this year.
It is estimated that the city will have the capacity to host 150,000 Kenyans, many of who will live and work on site.
“There exists the potential of direct employment of 150,000 people whilst indirectly employing close to 500,000 people, thus impacting over 2,000,000 lives,” said Jiannan Bao, the director of the Beijing-based Damei Investment Company in the project documents.
The city will attract an initial foreign direct investment into the country of approximately Sh201 billion (about $2 billion) with the potential of up to Sh756 billion (about$7.5 billion) by the time the entire development is complete.
On Thursday, Businessman Bobby Kamani said he has shareholding interest in the multi-billion-shilling project through his Zuri Group of companies. Zuri Group is owned by the Kamani family, which holds vast interests in the hospitality industry worldwide, including Zuri Hotels.
The city will be modelled along the mega Chinese parks that comprise homes, factories and amenities like hospitals, schools and shopping malls all in one location.
The Friendship City will have the status of a Special Economic Zone with a township and five separate functional parks within the property, documents related to the project have revealed.
The investors will enjoy tax breaks consistent with Kenya’s policy of special economic zone (SEZs). Kenya has been seeking partnerships with the private sector to develop housing units, as the country looks to plug a housing shortfall of approximately 240,000 units per year.
The United Nations urban development agency, Habitat, estimates that more than half of Nairobi’s four million people dwell in slums.