Unveiling its programs and investment opportunities recently was the Machakos County. The opportunities were contained in the Machakos Vision 2020 Strategic Plan for 2015 –2020.
The County outlines seven strategic goals that the County will pursue in the plan-period. There are improved health, Food security and nutrition, Water and sanitation, Enhancement of security, Promotion of Education, Development of youth, sports and recreation facilities, and Identification and support of vulnerable groups.
With a population of nearly 1.2 million, Machakos County has a literacy rate of 88 per cent. Some 76 per cent aged below 18 years attend school.
When it comes to infrastructure, paved roads cover only 7 per cent while roads classified as good cover 27 per cent of the County’s road network.
And electricity access is only 17 per cent.
These are some of the areas that spell great investment opportunities. Emphasis in the Kenya is being laid on alternative sources of energy because of the unreliability of water as a source of power. Solar power and wind are some alternatives that investors can explore, with high returns if successful.
The plan says, “The beautiful hilly scenery of the County of Machakos is perfect for tourism related activities such as camping, hiking safaris, ecotourism and cultural tourism, dance and music festivals among many more.”
Machakos County has a wealth of creative traditions and cultural industries. World famous wood carvers have their home in Wamunyu in Machakos County where the industry was started by Mutisya wa Munge. Syondo traditional baskets and a myriad other traditional crafts trace their home to Ukambani, of which Machakos is a part.
Dances like kilumi are dramatic and are famed for their therapeutic qualities. In deed, kilumi is like meditation which has created enormous wealth for Asian countries including India.
Ndanu Musau is one of the many researchers on Kumi. In her research The religious significance of kilumi rituals,songs and dances among the Akamba of Kitui district (Kenyatta University library) she says, “… kilumi rituals and dances fall into four main groups, namely: ( 1) Worship -k-i -l.-u-mi (2 ) Therapeutic kilumi ( 3 ) Cleansing kilumi (4) Initiation kilumi.” Yoga falls into similar categories, but it is the therapeutic aspects that are empahised for the international community. Similarly, kilumi should be organized to serve a similar purpose.
Kilumi is one of the traditional Kamba dances popularized for national entertainment during the era of President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and are well-known for the rhythmic drumming. All these can form a basis for a modernized entertainment, therapy and keep fit exercises which can attract both local and international tourist. They can also be exported abroad to earn investors greater incomes.
The Machakos government has achieved great success in creating an environment in which these industries can flourish to being great returns for investors.
The Machakos People’s Park, located at the foot of the internationally famous Kapiti plains, is one of these enabling government investments. Heavy promotion by the government and sheer fun and freedom offered by the park has made it a leading choice for many entertainment events around the country.
According to government statistics, more than 5,000 people visit the park every weekend.
The Machakos Stadium, which was renovated to international standards, has hosted many local and international events.
The net effect of these strategic investments has been the pulling into Machakos of other events such as the motor and cycling rallies as well as flurry of media attention
Real Estate and Industry
Perhaps this is the most obvious opportunity for investors. Machakos County offers large flat and empty spaces for real estate and industrial investments. In deed many real estate developers are already taking advantage of this and giant estates are coming up in Athi River all the way to beyond Kangundo road.
Predictions are that within a few years, the entire Kapiti plains formerly occupied by European farms will be covered with giant estates to serve the needs of expanding Nairobi population.
The plains also offer opportunities for investments that require large flat spaces such as hospitals and educational institutions. Already there are a number of universities and secondary schools located in the County which target the middle class population of Nairobi City.
Its nearness to Nairobi coupled with security, has in deed helped in this regard.
The Machakos County Government is working hard to maintain and improve the investment environment for real estate investors.
Among the top priorities outlined in its Strategic Plan is fast tracking issuance of title deeds, increasing coverage of street lights in towns and trade centres and installation of CCTV surveillance camera and policing
Other Investment Opportunities.
Other investment opportunities include water and sanitation, agriculture and health.
The County Government has been active in providing health services especially targeting women, but there is still a wide room for investors. In deed, several private hospitals have invested heavily in the County.
Investors interested in farming will join a growing number of large scale farmers, especially flower farmers. Perishable farm products that need to take advantage of quick, and low cost transport to national and international markets will find the County most appropriate investment destination because of its proximity to the Jomo Kenyattta International Airport. They can also take advantage of the Mombasa Road and the railway line which traverse the County to reach markets in outlying cities and town such as Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru.