Barry Silah @obel_barry
Mount Kenya region, particularly Laikipia county, is steadily embracing property development concepts that are attracting a huge interest.
During this year’s second edition of Realtors Expo held last weekend in Nanyuki town, the turnout by exhibitors and prospecting customers was impressive. At least 60 participants took part in the exhibition, which was meant primarily to showcase and open up the county as a gateway to infrastructural development.
Multiple projects are coming up, especially the giant Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (Lapsset) Northern Corridor project, a key Jubilee administration development project being implemented in collaboration with the governments of Ethiopia and South Sudan. Neighbouring counties of Meru, Isiolo and Nyeri are also involved in harnessing infrastructure developments even as tourism attractions boost demand for luxurious rural homes.
During the expo which was attended by Principal Secretary Housing & Urban Development Charles Hinga and the Laikipia county executive in charge of Infrastructure and Urban Development Joseph Shuel, stakeholders were in agreement that more resources needed to be invested in the region to spur faster growth.
Hinga said housing is a key pillar in the government’s Big Four Agenda and it is only appropriate that partnerships are encouraged. “As a ministry, we are keen to address the challenges around affordable housing,” he said.
The PS said President Uhuru Kenyatta wants to see some of the housing policies implemented so that the ever-ballooning population gets proper homes. “We will need a lot of support through Public-Private Partnerships, driven largely by the corporate sector,” he said.
Hinga congratulated the organisers of the expo, D-Square Ventures, who had offered the would-be homebuyers different options. He said the government is working out intervention measures that will ensure citizens are cushioned against spiralling costs of building and owning homes.
Some of the policy measures being implemented bare the land value index, digitisation of land registry, cheaper mortgage financing for civil servants installation of solar power in homes.
According to Dan Njoroge, an energy expert and economist, the involvement of Kenya Private Sector Alliance is critical in achieving Vision 2030 and the United Nations-driven Sustainable Development Goals going forward. “There is an estimated 1.8 million homes deficit in Kenya and the private sector is keen to help diffuse this gap. The Big 4 Agenda is clear on achieving a good shelter for our people,” he added.
Realtors Expo managing director, David Mwenda Gitari, said many people are not aware about the investment opportunities outside the main urban centres. “There is immense opportunity for real estate investments in Nanyuki and Laikipia and this is why we identified this as a meeting point for investors. Given devolution, it is about time Kenyans started growing county economies,” said Gitari.
Shuel is happy with the renewed interest in his county. “We are centrally placed and we have a multi-cultural feel so that makes us the county of choice. Investors are now turning to us and as an administration, we are doing all we can to ensure the momentum carries on,” he said.
The biggest focus for the county government is the Smart Homes Initiative expected to be conducive for residents in the long term. “We are also partnering with the national government’s Affordable Housing Programme and soon we will embark on developing cheap homes. I urge our investors to utilise local skill to improve even job opportunities here while at the same time keeping in mind that green is the way to go,” he added.
Hinga said since only 25,000 Kenyans are on mortgage, it makes sense for the government to try to cushion its populace. “Land is a big issue and so through the initiative of Kenya Urban Support Programme, we will be working with counties to address pressing challenges like waste management solutions, drainage network and proper sewers systems. We will also be looking at conflicting laws to ease ownership and especially on matters of title deed transfers and the procurement processes to seal gaps must also be rethought,” he said.