Renaissance Partners, the company planning to develop a privately-run city on the outskirts of Nairobi, is also contemplating a similar initiative in Rwanda.
“We are having a high-level engagement with Rwanda to establish a satellite city outside Kigali,” Arnold Meyer, the managing director for Africa at Renaissance Partners told The East-African in Johannesburg.
According to Mr Meyer, the business model involves acquisition of a large piece of land outside a city that is choking due to rapid urbanisation, to set up satellite cities with proper infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity that will accommodate more people.
“The solution to the crises in cities is not buying an acre in downtown to put up a 30 storey hotel or office block in an already compromised environment,” he argued.
Mr Meyer said in every African city lies an opportunity to implement this model, although the main constraint is often lack of sufficient land that is close to the city.
The project in Kenya is dubbed Tatu City, an arrangement that is expected to see more than 1,000 hectares hived off Ruiru Municipal Council land to create a self-managed territory run by a private company.
Residents of the satellite city will then pay the company for deployment of services such as electricity and water. The company will in turn pay taxes to Ruiru Municipal Council on a consolidated basis. Furthermore, the residents will be required to subscribe to the municipality for services such as landscaping and street lighting.
The mayor of Ruiru Municipal Council Geoffrey Mwangi Kaarah, said the arrangement had the support of his local authority as it would open up not only his municipality, but also the rest of Kiambu County for development.
“We will go out of our way to ensure that no hurdles are experienced by the project’s managers. They brought proposals and plans that we passed. Now, theirs is to implement the proposal and build the infrastructure. As long as they pay licences and other charges as required, we will not interfere with the management,” Mr Kaarah said.
The project has suffered a setback due to an ongoing court case in which two shareholders are seeking the dissolution of the project on the grounds that they have been excluded from participating in its running.
The project, which will be implemented over the next 10 years in 11 phases, is undergoing regulatory procedures such as compliance with the requirements of the National Environmental Management Authority.
Meanwhile, urban planners are already preparing to begin setting up infrastructure in the area. The first batch of this work, slated for next year, will see the Eastern bypass extended into the property.
Mr Meyer said the property is generating interest among developers interested in buying up parcels.
“The interest is good but we are holding back,” he explained, adding that only between five and seven agreements will be entered into in the initial phase. More parcels of the land will be offered for sale once the value goes up, as expected, once the infrastructure is in place.
According to Mugo Kibati, the chief executive officer of Kenya’s Vision 2030 delivery board, said such initiatives as Tatu City fit into the government’s economic blueprint that stresses privately planned and developed urban centres.
The idea appears to be attracting competition. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the family of Kenya’s deputy prime minister, Uhuru Kenyatta, is in the initial stages of setting up their own private municipality. Apparently, the development, to be known as Northlands City, will sit on an 11,000 acre piece of land, also in Ruiru Municipality.
According to Mugo Kibati, the chief executive officer of Kenya’s Vision 2030 delivery board, such initiatives as Tatu City fit into the government’s economic blueprint that stresses privately planned and developed urban centres.