A meteoric growth of Nakuru has drawn the attention of many investors eyeing prime properties in the county that offers serene living within easy access to major cities in Kenya.
The town has become a darling for investors due to a developed road network within the central business district and its environs and recent investments in infrastructure by the National and county governments,
Emerging investments in Nakuru town and surrounding areas have resulted in ripple effects that include a land value boom, a value addition industry, technology skills transfer and job creation. Over the past two years, the town has attracted investors who have rushed to put up commercial shopping malls, office blocks and colleges to cater for the soaring businesses and youth seeking higher education.
In September 2017, the Cabinet approved elevation of Nakuru and Eldoret towns to cities to bring the total number to five — the others being Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
Consequently, land prices have risen steeply due to rising demand for homes and commercial premises. Estates such as Pipeline, Whitehouse, Section 58, Kiti, Lanet and Naka are just but a few examples of areas where rent has gone up by at least 30 per cent after completion of roadworks.
Duncan Kimani, director Chemwani Investment Company, says exaggerated land costs in Nairobi have driven out investors to seek business opportunities away from the capital. “Nakuru is well placed for investors,” he adds.
Kimani says in the next 10 years, Nakuru will be an undisputed investment hub within the East African region, noting that the current growth of malls and housing projects has been phenomenal.
“Multi-billion shilling malls are being set up to satisfy demand,” he says.
In September last year, a survey released by the Institute of Economic Affairs reported that it is easier to start a business in Nakuru town compared to five other populous urban areas. This was mainly because of a reduced tax burden that has made the county attractive to investors.
The study gave the county an overall score of 89 per cent in the tax sub-cluster followed by Eldoret (78) and Machakos (67). In October last year, Cytonn Investment said the land sector in Nakuru county recorded an annualised capital appreciation of 8.8 per cent attributed to speculation and increased demand for land in residential zones.
Gladys Kuria of Imbona Investments has applauded the county government’s efforts to implement a reduced tax burden that has made the county more attractive to investors. However, she says, insecurity has hindered development in some areas, especially theft of construction materials in estates .
Construction of a Sh1 billion ultra-modern shopping mall by the Kenya Women Holding (KWH) is almost complete.Strategically located between Tom Mboya Street and Kipchoge Keino Avenue, KWH Hub will offer space for retail stores, banking halls, supermarkets and commercial office space.
Another mall under construction is the Sh1.6 billion shopping mall by the Egerton University Retirement Benefits Scheme to meet growing demand for quality commercial space. Located in Industrial area, Golden Life Mall project is expected to be completed next year.
According to Mukula Mwanzia, a hotelier, the county has been working to attract investors and one industry, which appears to have heeded this call, is the hospitality sector with modern new hotels and resorts have been constructed in the past few years.
“The hospitality department has been a major contributor to the county’s revenue and given the modern hotels and resorts, I believe this sector has heeded the call by the county on investments,” said Mwanzia.
Road infrastructure has also improved, with the completion of two interchanges along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway, which have spruced up the face of the town.
Not surprisingly, the World Bank has recommended that Nakuru town pilots President Uhuru Kenyatta’s affordable housing project because the critical infrastructure needed for cheap houses. The homes in Nakuru will be built on 50-acres along Nairobi-Nakuru road.
Last month, the inaugural 2019 Gross County Product report has also voted Nakuru as the second richest county after Nairobi.