Tatu City and the future of urban development in Kenya

An artistic impression of the Tatu City

As of 2012, more than 25% of Kenya’s population live in urban areas. This figure continues to increase – by over 4% per annum. The service sectors account for almost half of Kenya’s total GDP, and the country is Eastern and Central Africa’s hub for financial, communication and transport services. The real estate sector in Kenya has seen a boom that begun somewhere in the mid to late 2000’s as the market is responding to the high demand.

There are however downsides associated with being in urban areas such as broken down infrastructure, the high traffic gridlock, crowding and increasing crime. This is why there was a need to come up with a visionary concept that would shift urban development in Kenya from the existing single mode model to a decentralized urban environment, which is realized in the construction of mega cities. Mega cities are mixed use and mixed income developments that will be self reliant in terms of management and amenities. This concept is not new in the Kenyan sphere; Konza City is already in development and will include a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) technology park, several corporate companies, five star hotels, a stadium and other amenities that one would find in a normal city. Examples of other mega cities in Africa include Sandton City in Johannesburg, Festival City in Cairo, Sungate in Namibia, Al Morgan in Khartoum and Levy Business Park in Lusaka, Zambia.

Ground-breaking ceremony for Kijani Ridge with Ambassador Robert Godec, Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed and Kimabu Governor William Kabogo in attendance
Ground-breaking ceremony for Kijani Ridge in Tatu City  with Ambassador Robert Godec, Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed and Kimabu Governor William Kabogo in attendance

Tatu City falls within this vision, and is the largest urban development in Kenya with the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs and homes, with a large majority of those being affordable homes and apartments. Tatu City will rest on a 2,500 acre plot located within Kiambu County, near Ruiru town, off the Thika Highway. Its plans include residential, commercial, industrial, tourism, social and recreation amenities that will cater to more than 70,000 residents and 30,000 day visitors.

Last week on Thursday(17th September) at the National Museums of Kenya, Stephen Jennings, the key investor behind Tatu City, delivered a talk in which he detailed his experiences on the road towards Tatu City. The Louis Leakey Auditorium was nearly full, with key figures in attendance, including Esther Passaris and Aly-Khan Satchu.

There has been controversy surrounding the Tatu City project namely director wrangles and  court battles that lasted until July this year when construction of homes was formally kicked off in a major breakthrough. Despite all this there has been lots of confidence in the viability of the project, with several industrial customers throwing their weight behind it and investing upto 750 million dollars. 

Kim-Fay East Africa which is the Nairobi-based manufacturer and distributor of market-leading personal care, hygiene, health and nutrition brands across East Africa, will build its new corporate headquarters, as well as manufacturing, distribution and warehousing facilities. Kim-Fay’s move to Tatu Industrial Park is expected to be completed within the next two years.

The Dormans Coffee Group, one of the leading coffee exporters and roasters in East Africa, will establish its global headquarters as well as processing, packaging, warehousing and trading facilities capable of handling up to 15,000 tonnes of coffee annually. The presence of such industries and businesses within the city means that tens of thousands of jobs will be created.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>we’re at an advanced stage with three Kenyan housing developers for large-scale new housing projects <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TatuTrueTalk?src=hash”>#TatuTrueTalk</a></p>&mdash; Tatu City (@Tatu_City) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Tatu_City/status/644780472510320640″>September 18, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Kijani Ridge is the first residential phase of Tatu City which aspires to be a premier gated community with spacious individual serviced plots with fully integrated amenities. A range of half acre and quarter acre plots are available on a land parcel of 150 acres, and 50% of Phase 1 has already been sold. Utilities such as sewage systems, water, electricity and broadband will be completed by the end of next year. When completed there will be up to 40,000 affordable and middle class housing units available which will result in a 5% reduction in the housing deficit. Kijani Ridge will have all the amenities an exclusive residential community would require such as a club house, communal swimming pool and restaurant, a school, mini-shopping center and a jogging track. At Kijani one will be able to live in a comfortable, secure and tranquil environment within a well-planned modern city with easy access to the rest of Nairobi and beyond via the various road networks.

Tatu City is one of the largest private foreign direct investments in Kenyan history. It is also the largest American investment in Kenya. It has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs during the course of the project as well as after. Thousands of affordable homes will be built, and billions of shillings will flow directly into Kenya and Kiambu County.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>The owners of Tatu City continue to invest in Tatu City and Kenya’s future. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/TatuTrueTalk?src=hash”>#TatuTrueTalk</a></p>&mdash; Hustler™ (@jeremymuts) <a href=”https://twitter.com/jeremymuts/status/644555888536252417″>September 17, 2015</a></blockquote>
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