A survey by the Institute of Economic Affairs comparing Kenya’s six largest towns in 2017 revealed the efficiency of urban areas by rank. The assessment of urban areas was piloted in the six most populous urban areas in Kenya namely Eldoret, Kisumu, Machakos, Mombasa, Nairobi and Nakuru.

These six urban areas were selected largely based on population but also on geographical spread. Besides being the six largest in Kenya, they are very diverse among themselves, from their economic size and output.

The survey employed the use of the Urban Areas Performance Index (UAPI) which is a composite index used to assess overall performance of urban areas based on three clusters. The three clusters include; Conditions for residents (how good the urban area is for residents), Conditions for investors (how good the urban area is for investors), and Principles of good governance (how well the urban area fulfills principles of good management and governance)

The urban areas were assigned scores from 0-100 based on service delivery, provision of a friendly investment environment and, effective and transparent asset and resource management. The best performing urban areas are the most liveable and associated with better quality of life, favourable investment environment and efficient use of resources in a transparent manner.

Nairobi, the capital city and the most populous of the urban areas emerged top with a score of 63, making it the best performing urban area and the favourite for residents and investors. With above average performance, Nairobi is indeed the most livable (attractive urban area for residence and business/investment) of the six urban areas based on the UAPI.

At second place was Nakuru with a score of 56, followed closely by Eldoret (55.7). Further, Mombasa and Machakos whose scores are below the overall UAPI mean score follow in that order. Kisumu with a score of 47.6 was ranked last.

Most of the urban areas ranked best on the condition for residents cluster (63) followed by principle of good governance (53). The least performing cluster was condition for investment with a mean score of 40.

Nairobi was ranked first overall for leading on the cluster of conditions for resident and principles of good governance. However, on conditions for investment, Eldoret and Mombasa took the lead with a score of 46 each.

The best performing urban areas were those that scored highly on condition for residents by providing efficient and quality services to residents, encouraging competition and choice of service providers. Such an urban area often succeeds in attracting and retaining residents if they maintains and strengthen these services.

Urban areas which reduce the burden of tax and provide an enabling environment including information on taxes and other necessary information for businesses and potential investors were ranked highest on condition for investment.

“It is likely that ten years into devolution, things that will be important to citizen may change. For example, new investment opportunities maybe more compelling for urban areas like Nakuru and Eldoret but better governance may appeal to the two largest cities, Nairobi and Mombasa”, says the report.

The data collection period was from November 2016 to May 2017.

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