Nairobi has been ranked among the top ten emerging global cities to watch by Chicago-based real estate management firm, Jones Lang Lasalle.
The ranking, which is based on an aggregation of 150 global city indices, refers to Kenya’s capital as a “more stable business environment relative to Lagos, Cairo and Addis Ababa.”
Austin in the US was ranked the top city to watch in the globe, Australia’s Brisbane emerged number two while Calgary in Canada was ranked third.
Nairobi was placed number ten in a list that also featured Colombo (Sri Lanka), Nanjing (China), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Santiago de Chile, ShenZhen (China) and Tel Aviv (Israel).
“Nairobi is now one of Africa’s leading outsourcing centres, based particularly on its ability to attract human talent. An increasingly engaged national government has established a Ministry of Metropolitan Development to harness Nairobi’s regional potential as a liveable and resilient African metropolis,” notes the Jones Lang LaSalle report.
The firm specialises in commercial real estate services and investment management, and has more than 40,000 staff spread across 70 countries.
The report also looked at Nairobi’s level of communication, emerging middle class and rapid urbanisation.
The city’s position as the gateway to other eastern African economies and its status as a melting pot for highly skilled talent helped it to beat other African cities in the ranking.
South Africa, however, remains the country with the two hottest cities to watch on the continent.
“Johannesburg and Cape Town nevertheless remain clearly the most competitive cities in Africa. In most studies, the South African pair is not yet closely rivaled by any of Cairo, Nairobi or Lagos. Many of these latter centers show economic potential, but security, infrastructure and social deficiencies are holding them back in comprehensive benchmarks.”
The 150 cities are ranked in different categories, including Emerging World Cities, Self-Government and the Fiscal Capacity of Cities.
Ben Woodhams, the chief executive at property management firm Knight Frank, said that national carrier Kenya Airways has helped to elevate Nairobi’s status among emerging global cities.
He reckoned that Kenya Airways’ route expansion has acted as a magnet for multinational companies in search of new regional offices.
“Without Kenya Airways, offices would have moved to Rwanda,” said Mr Woodhams.
The national carrier has increased its destinations to 62 from 25 over the past decade and it will add nine more routes beginning 2014, further opening up Nairobi.
The growing number of expats in Nairobi has pushed up property prices in the high-end locations.
The Wealth Report 2012 by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank ranked Nairobi as the hottest real estate market in 2011. Property prices in the city’s prime areas increased by an average of 25 per cent, the highest rate of return.
“As Nairobi emerges as one of the leading business hubs of Africa, the options for short-term corporate letting, which can be from a few days to even a month, remain extremely limited,” said Hass Consult marketing manager Sakina Hassanali at the launch of Serenita Apartments, a high-end complex.
The Sh1.7 billion development launched on Wednesday is designed to cater for expatriates and business travellers.