Kenyan gov’t plans to make Nairobi a leading African metropolis

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Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are expected to put the final touches to a new blueprint for a new Nairobi Metropolis, aimed at making the city an African diplomatic hub and a trade centre.

Kenyan engineers and economic researchers are working out an elaborate blueprint, seeking to utilise Nairobi’s proximity to the intra-African highway, the northern corridor, to grab the attention of the world and make Nairobi rich.

Nairobi Metropolitan Minister Mutula Kilonzo said Tuesday the transformation into a metropolis, bringing together more than 15 towns and municipalities within a 40km radius, will begin soon after the enactment of a new law authorising the transformation.

“We are working with all local authorities, the ministry of local government and the stakeholders but the law is inadequate,” the minister said here.

Kenya’s economic and social think-tank, the National Social and Economic Council (NESC), which comprises distinguished international experts from Britain and the Far East, has recommended the creation of the new metropolis to re-position Kenya.

Nairobi is banking on its central location within the global air transport network and the northern corridor, which officials hope would put the city on a fast-track to becoming the fastest growing air transportation hub and a logistics centre for the region.

“There is thus a huge opportunity here to transform Nairobi into the region’s and the continent’s diplomatic hub,” according to the blueprint, dubbed Nairobi 2030.

Kenyans are also angling for a share of Africa’s growing enterprise in research and education.

The thinking is to make Nairobi the centre of attraction for researchers taking cross-border studies.

In the pipeline is a plan to create areas within the Metropolis designated as education, industrial and diplomatic centres.

For the first time, the government is planning to leave Nairobi’s business centre to be used as the financial hub for the region.

Education and research, officials say, is more lucrative, given the current drive towards a knowledge based economy.

Kenyan urban planners believe the designation of some of the areas in the Metropolis as educational hubs would enable Kenya to earn a share.

The Kenyan government has partly introduced the concept of a 24-hour economy and it is seeking to grab a chunk of of the US$2.2 trillion generated globally in education and research.

Kilonzo, who hopes to see that the laws authorising the formation of the metropolis would be ready by October when the Kenyan parliament resumes sittings, said the 15 municipalities would be migrated into the new metropolis.

“This is not easy, it is a balancing act,” said Kilonzo, who leads the third force in the unity government, formed after the post-election violence in the East African state.

Nairobi’s population is presently estimated at 3.05 million people.

The officials at the Nairobi Metropolitan ministry also said the city was currently facing a poor service delivery record, usually highlighted by congestion during peak working hours.

The congestion, due to heavy traffic, leads to poor health and causes huge losses to businesses. Panapress .

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