Nairobi remain still the best place to invest in in Kenya, despite efforts by the Counties to promote their capital towns and cities. Nairobi, which is the only city in world with a national game part attached to it, was recently described as by the British Rough Guides as “Africa’s youngest, fastest-growing metropolis and the beating heart of the continent’s largest economy, has for too long been overlooked.”
Rough Guides urged its readers to visit Nairobi where they will find “a dynamic urban landscape with cool restaurants, ground breaking art projects and a burgeoning fashion scene.”
“Skip Nairobi now and you are missing out, big time,” said Rough Guides.
But if you are looking for affordable real estate, skip Nairobi and walk over to satellite towns — Kitengela, Kiserian — both in Kajiado County – and Athi River and Kangundo Road – both in Machakos County.
Land availability and reasonable prices in these locations have made the areas key drivers for developers and favourites for Kenya’s fast growing middle class.
According to Hass Consult real estate remains the best investment option in Kenya. Hass Consult gives an example of a person who bought an acre of land in 2007 for a million shillings in these areas. Today, he would resell the investment at Sh6.4 million by beginning of this year. The best other invest would bring such an investor a miserly less than a million shillings.
A saving account would have done even worse with returns of only Sh140,000 in the same period.
The popularity of the satellite towns is attested by the fact that more than 60 per cent of Diaspora investments on real estate going to satellite towns.
You should however head towards Malaba on the border with Uganda if you are planning to start a small business. Malaba is a small town in Busia County and the border town handles 70% of cargo in transit to and from the port of Mombasa to neighbouring landlocked countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and DR Congo.
Plans are that when the fast speed standard gauge railway line is completed, the town will host a train passenger terminal which will further boost fortunes for investors in its environs.
In Malaba your construction permits will be quickly handled. And if you have disputes – always plan for disputes if you are in business – Malaba is the best town for enforcing contracts.
But if you like to be nearer Nairobi – there are Kenyans who would rather be poor in Nairobi than be rich in any other place – pitch your tent in Narok. This small town has friendly people and sprawling hotels with inexpensive varieties of food. (If you haven’t been there recently, then you have no clue what I am talking about).
Narok, a tourist town neighboring the famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, is renowned for being friendly to small businesses. The World Bank once ranked Narok the 15th best investment destination in the world just behind towns in Hong Kong, China. Ease of obtaining business license, a booming tourism sector makes it ideal for start-up to launch.
Thika remains a favourite for me because its beautiful pineapple and coffee farms. Thika town is also reputed world over for its heavy industrial production ventures. It was once named the 78th best destination to do business in the world because it has comparatively less cumbersome procedures especially on property registration. Cheaper rent prices, good road infrastructure and proximity to the Capital alongside future plans to transform it into an Aerotropolis town make it among the most wonderful places for a start-up to set up shop.
Some small businesses that seem to be performing well in and around Thika town include transport business, middle-income real estate, supply of construction material, ICT-based and grocery supplies.