KENYA — Growth vs Development

Kenya is a magical spot in the African continent. Filled to the brim with exciting safaris, the region is also rich in geographical, cultural and natural diversity. Apart from being a tourist’s delight, this east African country is now gradually making it’s way up into serious investors’ heart as well.

Investments and opportunities

Currently, there has been much excitement about President Mwai Kibaki’s announcement regarding the start of the construction work on Lamu Port! This is, arguably the country’s largest investment so far and has created a buzz among investors across the world.

The project is being marketed around the world for investors, and news has it that China is already the biggest contender for the project. There are several developed countries that have shown interest in the project, viz., Germany, Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

The project, when launched and developed, will provide Kenya with not only a a deep-sea port, a second one at that, but will also open up a route to the landlocked countries of Ethiopia and the newly independent, oil rich South Sudan.

Total Project Cost

The total cots of the project, which will include a railway line, a modern road that will link the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the South Sudan capital of Juba to the Kenyan coast Lamu Port, and an oil refinery, is estimated to the tune of $16 billion (shs1.4 trillion), and is said to be much larger than the country’s budget.

What does it mean for Kenya?

The Positives:

  1. With this launch and development, Kenya is poised to leap into the middle level economy segment.
  2. It is sure to drive meaningful economic growth.
  3. Rise in real estate investments. Experts speculate that there will be an impressive growth in foreign nationalities investing in holiday homes, luxury properties, etc., in anticipation of a growth in the cruise tourism.
  4. Growth in tourism as well as agriculture sector are also expected.

 The negatives:

  1. Environmental issues, such as danger to the delicate marine life, coral reefs and mangroves, surrounding the port.
  2. As a result of the above, the fishing industry may be hit adversely.
  3. Piracy is a major concern now for shippers, once the ports open up.
  4. Some fear that the costal tourism industry may suffer since the dredging activities may ward off tourists from snorkeling or even basking in the bright African sun!

With enough assurance from concerned authorities, one can only hope that along with the growth in the economy, overall development is also kept in focus. Balancing infrastructure growth with a strong environmental, cultural and tourist protection regulations is important to ensure justifiable and equal enjoyment of progress!

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