Allan Olingo & Harold ayodo visited the fast changing agricultural area where plantations have made way for real estate.

Ten years ago, Kiambu was agricultural zone with green lush vegetation of coffee and tea plantatyions, but the region has lately opened up for development with developers invading prime land to build homes for either sale or rent to an already bulging Nairobi population.

Located 22 kilometres from Nairobi, its population density is relatively increasing due to the influx of reidents.

According to the Kiambu County Council Chairman Mr MacDonald Goko, there are tens of construction sites within this county, a key indicator that many farmers have resorted to real estate investment as an alternative to the agricultural farming as an economic activity.


Some of the developments coming up in Kiambu

He further noted that the demand for rental units has shot up by more than 100 per cent in the last three years making the construction business a gold mine for the council.

“Besides being a solution to the high demand of houses and giving good returns to the investors, real estate gives our county an appealing look hence attracting more investors, which is positive for our economy,” he said.

The booming housing business is now threatening the areas economic activity, agriculture as many farmers are now selling off their land to developers with others cutting down their coffee and tea bushes to pave way for the now booming construction business.

Attractive climate

Dr Mbira Gikonyo, the Managing Director of Home Afrika, the developers of Migaa Estate, however defends the replacement of the coffee and tea plantations with real estate saying the returns on investment of real estate as compared to that of agriculture is much higher and attractive.

“The international coffee prices have been on a downward trend but in real estate, we are not disappointed by the returns,” he adds.

Kiambu is now experiencing the upsurge of self-supporting neighbourhoods. Migaa, Edenville, Fourways Junction and Jacaranda Gardens are now the new landmarks in Kiambu, with the Sh200 billion Tatu City causing quite a stir. The real estate project expected to house 62, 000 residents is one of the most exciting projects Kiambu county is awaiting.

Kiambu is preferred for its location, proximity to the city centre and its attractive climate and landscape. Another factor has been its closeness to the United Nations offices in Nairobi and the leafy Runda and Muthaiga suburbs. There is need, however, for land-use planning because the agricultural productivity of the land is being wasted.

Notes Dr Gikonyo: “At the moment we have sold out our first phase yet we are at the ground breaking stage.”

The real estate boom has benefited the town, with the major banks such as Equity bank, Cooperative Bank, Family Bank, Barclays, Standard Chartered and the Kenya Commercial Bank having their presence here.

The presence of shopping malls, infrastructural development and employment opportunities are key indicators that even the commercial developments have gained ground in this town.

Creative designs

As concerns services, Mr Goko notes that Kiambu boasts provision of clean water to most of the residents. “We have a reliable water supply system coupled with the best infrastructural network and we are hoping that the completion of the Ruiru-Limuru bypass will further open the area up to the investors,” he says.

Another developer Mr John Ngecha notes that the competition amongst developers has impacted positively on the real estate growth in this county as each developer tries to outdo the other.

“We have seen tremendous improvement in terms of design, facade appearance and finishings as developers try to catch the attention of the ever so choosy buyers ,” he notes.

Ngecha notes that while they, the developers, are selling houses off the plan, the only challenge they face is the soaring land prices and high cost of building within this area.

“We have to buy most construction materials from other places and transport them. We get stones fron Thika and cement and most other materials from Nairobi. However, we are enjoying quick sales, especially from the Asian community and the elite who mostly buy these homes for investment,” he adds.

He further adds that most residents want to own, not rent homes in Kiambu, and thus the disproportionate amount of houses for sale and for rent.