Latest satellite city to be erected in Athi River

Barely two weeks after the groundbreaking of the first affordable housing programme apartments in Nairobi, another major construction project is set to begin later this year. Located in the outskirts of the capital in Athi River, the Friendship City as dubbed by the Beijing Damei Investment Company, a Chinese construction giant, is estimated to cost Shs. 200 billion. The 1200-acre city shall model mega Chinese Parks which usually include Homes, Factories and Amenities such as Malls, Hospitals and Schools. A perfect example of such Parks is Shenzen in South-Eastern China.

The Project Plan Documents reveal that the City shall have a Township and Five Functional Parks thus claiming a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status by virtue of hosting approximately 150,000 people that will be living and working within the precincts of the City. The City will indirectly employ close to half a million people.

“In total, about 2 million lives will feel the impact of the city,” declared Mr. Jiannan Bao, the Director of the construction company.

Satellite Cities have mushroomed all across the nation thanks to the growing middle class in Kenya. Decent housing has seen its demand grow and has pushed developers to conceptualize the satellite cities. These include Tatu, Konza, Northlands and Tilisi, Friendship City being the latest. It is expected that investors will enjoy tax breaks due to Friendship City’s SEZ status as dictated by Kenyan policy on SEZs.

In as much as operational and legal bottlenecks limit the Chinese Model SEZs, the model has continued to gain popularity in African countries. Locally, a number of projects that lag behind their estimated times include Tatu and Konza cities in Kiambu and Machakos Counties respectively, both being less than an hour’s drive from the Nairobi CBD. Despite the real estate sector booming over the past decade, most projects have been targeted for the high end market as developers seek higher returns but this is bound to change with the government’s push for affordable housing for all Kenyans. This is according to the ruling party’s election pledge of the big four agenda, housing being one of them. Stay informed of this pledge progress in this article.

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