Centum Kenya’s flagship real estate development, Two Rivers mall, has been hailed as the second largest mall on the continent outside of South Africa. However, the mall is half the story told in the grand scheme of Two Rivers. A look into the firm reveals a more ambitious plan showing that the mall was just a foot in the door for the developers.
The firm’s portfolio of projects, now known more properly as Two Rivers City, also comprises of Two Rivers office towers, Two Rivers Development, City Lodge, Victoria Bank and Riverbank Apartments which make up all the essential elements of a smart city.
Just last year, the parent company Two Rivers Limited appointed it’s first mayor, an experienced Zambian national, to oversee progress in the 106-acre property situated along Limuru Road, pointing to the firm’s intention of advancing the development into a well-to-do node by working with third party developers. Over the holidays, the mall complex management already added Africa’s tallest Ferris wheel which is 60m high, with 40 cabins and a cabin capacity of 6 people, to its cache of amusement devices.
Further, the Two Rivers location which is at the centre of Nairobi’s affluent neighbourhoods and diplomatic blue zones of Runda, Nyari, Gigiri and Muthaiga, make it an ideal candidate to mimic other smart city nodes on the continent which have emerged into modern epicentres of commerce and lifestyle.
South Africa’s Sandton for instance easily comes to mind. The affluent neighbourhood has risen to prominence, holding sway over Johannesburg’s urban core especially in financial services and hospitality. Another is the up and coming Ekko Atlantis in Nigeria, which is expected to ease matters over Lagos’ unbecoming urban core.
Nairobi’s urban core faces nearly similar challenges as the South and West African capitals, and the emerging urban nodes portray the systems’ reaction to restore some sort of equilibrium. As such, Two Rivers may just have come at the right time to contribute its own part in repair the backlash.
Last year, Two Rivers Development announced plans to oversee a residential development that will realize the construction of 10,000 residences in the second phase of the project. With formidable infrastructure and contained access to essential services plus a surrounding affluent market, the prospects for Two Rivers City appear certain.
However, like in most other countries, Two Rivers is not the only response by the private sector to the failure of public systems in urban management. Tatu city is no less ambitious, and the nascent Konza Technopolis has long been primed as Africa’s Silicon Savannah. Yet ideas are often on one hand and reality, on the other.