Kenya’s Western most city, Kisumu, has experienced substantial growth and transformation over the past five years. Not only has the government invested in the city’s formerly sketchy roads infrastructure but recently the government announced that it would be dredging the water hyacinth that has been an eyesore and a barrier for fishing, tourism and transportation activities on the lake.
The city’s Northern by-pass for instance links the town to the Western counties, eventually leading to Uganda which is Kenya’s biggest trading partner in the East African region. Over the same period, the city has also experienced growth in the retail sector with more malls now built, and several institutions have also found the city strategic for setting up or expanding their facilities.
The University of Nairobi’s most recent investment there resulted in the tallest building in the city’s budding skyline, until another investor upset the record with the Mega plaza development. It seems the otherwise reluctant Kisumu could soon experience a skyscraper bonanza.
Recent hospitality developments have been quite remarkable as well, with a handful of high-end hotels-being completed over the last four years. Last year, a developer launched the latest option for affluent indulgence in the city named, Ciala Resort, a luxurious bulwark located in the region of a 15-minute drive from the Kisumu International Airport and 18 km from the CBD. Other recent choice locations include the Grand Royal Swiss hotel, The Acacia, Victoria and others.
Kisumu is strategic for tourism and other investments, with a mass of untapped potential.
Residential developers too have lately focused on the high-end residences such as the investments located on the lush neighbourhoods of Riat Hills and other out of reach areas for the ordinary city dweller. However, the city is staggering under increasing demand for residential housing especially among the medium to low-income segments of the population.
Experts say that there are not enough single and one-bedroom apartment developers to supply the needs of the lower income earners. Much capital has gone to the development of posh areas such as Milimani West and Equartor Gardens, while only a few projects target the larger demand.
Last year, the county government of Kisumu announced a plan to set side a land bank to provide investors with ready access to land under the affordable housing agenda. Last year, HassConsult’s county price index identified the city as having the most bullish land markets riding on the back of increased demand for housing and reasonable land prices. .
Yet with growing demand, the government might start at quite out of depth, requiring the support of private investors in housing development of the city. Certainly, that will guarantee a much better outcome.