Nairobi has huge potential to be a world-class city

By , People Daily Digital
Friday, January 14th, 2022 02:00 | 3 mins read
A section of the 27.1-kilometre Nairobi Expressway that is expected to be complete by March next year. President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday inspected the mega project. Photo/PSCU


An old Chinese adage says that a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.

That saying is not just a cliché, it is true to many phenomena, including the city of Nairobi.

In 1900, when white settlers chose the area as Kenya’s capital, it hosted a handful people and an economy barely the size of our superstores. Today it is East Africa’s regional commercial capital.

Many multinational corporates have chosen Nairobi as their regional capital both for Africa as well as Eastern Africa.

A recent survey administered among international workers in Africa chose Nairobi as the best city to work in ahead of Cairo, Cape Town, Abuja and Abidjan.

This report by Expat City Ranking 2021 is a great feat to achieve for our city especially in the eyes of outsiders who cited among other reasons, ease of finding housing and friendly people.

Yet Nairobi has the potential to be the very best in the world not just for those who find a safe haven and homely environment here but to Nairobians themselves.

Some of the elements that make Nairobi an ideal habitat include excellent weather all year round, internet broadband connectivity with unparalleled speed, digital money and overall ease of banking, great and enough food and, most importantly, very good and friendly people.

Well, Nairobi has had challenges with security but the government has done a great job and that is now a thing of the past for most of the neighbourhoods especially with improved street lighting and roads and new health facilities spearheaded by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Yet the best of Nairobi is in its future. The Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) under the Office of the President has shown it can be done. 

What of better water supply, better pavements and roads, better management of County equipment including rehabilitation construction materials and the building of new hospitals in the past couple of months?

This vision must be taken even a notch higher for a city with over four million people and a total of nearly 10 million people in the larger Nairobi Metropolitan area. 

In the immediate future, Nairobi would want to step up the improvement of its informal settlements to make them more habitable through a synergy of devolved funds, national Treasury as well as development partners such as UN-Habitat.

To this end, there is need for a water supply and solid waste management system that is integrated with interest in environmental conservation as well as rainwater harvesting.

This could be achieved through improved drainage systems, water recycling, runoff harvesting as well as an establishment of new solid waste management sites in the outskirts of the city.

Youth development and overall employability can be better improved through sports, arts and culture management programmes.

The improvement of the Kenya Cultural Centre as a [email protected] Legacy projects in collaboration with the Kenya breweries Ltd in 2015 has allowed many artistes to showcase Kenya’s cultural heritage. 

With the President helping to bring back the title deed for the Theatre’s expansion, we have a great opportunity to work with partners and put together an ultra-modern theatre hosting over 5,000 people in a single show.

The Nairobi County Government needs to partner with artists as producers of some of the productions.

This will buttress Nairobi as East Africa’s cultural and entertainment capital creating thousands of jobs for our creatives.

And with Kenya Film Commission working closely with counties to establish film hubs across the country, Nairobi must not be left out and should host the largest and most sophisticated of all. 

Naiwood should be the next big thing after Naijawoo, Churning out hundreds of films monthly to the rest of Africa and the World.

But most importantly, Nairobi must improve the environment of doing business. Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) remain the driver for high productivity and supply of goods and services.

Against the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic and its effects on supply chain, concerted efforts to offer business relief is essential. — The writer is the President of Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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