Strategically located at the foot of Ngong Hills, overlooking the Nairobi National Park, is Ngong town.
The dusty town with roots in the British colonial rule having been one of Kenya’s settler farming grounds has grown from unpaved roads to a bustling suburb that has attracted investors and home developers over the years, raising the town’s land and property value.
“Ngong” is derived from the Maasai word “enkong’u emuny”, which means “rhinoceros spring”, the ‘eye’ of water” or “knuckles”, about the four hilly peaks of the Ngong Ridge.
The eye of the water has featured in the 1985 motion picture film “Out of Africa”- a ‘true story’ of Karen Blixen, according to the producers.
The intro captures Ngong hills with the voice of the narrator saying, “I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.”
The scenes from the film catapulted Ngong Hills to be voted the world’s most romantic movie location by the travel deals website Travelzoo in 2018.
The town, once predominantly inhabited by the nomadic Maasai, has changed gradually, becoming a cosmopolitan centre, boasting remarkable developments in terms of infrastructure upgrades, social amenities, as well as physical and social structures.
Developers and real estate agents say expansion of part of Nairobi’s Ngong Road into a dual carriageway has seen the town’s land prices go up 14 percent last year, a new report shows, making the place easily accessible.
The latest HassConsult land price index fourth-quarter report revealed that Ngong was the best-performing town with prices increasing to 4.74 percent over the three months and 14 percent last year.
In 2012, a one-acre parcel of land in Ngong was selling at an average of Sh7.8 million and has more than tripled in the last decade to Sh28.8 million last year.
Ngong has come from the bottom of the pyramid to become the fifth priciest satellite town in Nairobi and is now the fastest growing among the eighteen satellite towns in the latest quarter ending December 2022.
This is after it overtook its peers like Syokimau whose asking price per acre is now Sh28.3 million and Juja’s Sh18.7 million according to the latest data from HassConsult.
But Ruaka remains the most expensive with an acre of land fetching Sh98.4 million, Kiambu follows at Sh43.7 million, Mlolongo is priced at Sh34.1 million, Tigoni goes at Sh29.3 million and Ngong at Sh28.8 million.
Property agents say the landscaping is one of the factors that has resulted in the increased investor appetite for slots in Ngong.
“This increase was because all the old infrastructure in that area was upgraded and normally there’s an immediate hike in prices when that happens, on top of that, in areas like Kiambu prices went up a long time and when a place gets expensive, people start to move where the prices haven’t gone up yet,” said Ms Sakina Hassanali, the head of development consulting and research at HassConsult.
“As soon as you have infrastructure upgrade in an area, you’ll see prices start to move, for example, in Kiambu County everything was flat last year as opposed to Tigoni because it [Tigoni] had a lot of rework on infrastructure and it’s the only one that changed although the whole county was stagnant.”
An urban investment plan for Ngong municipality prepared in 2019 showed the town suffered dilapidated roads, no access to clean water, incessant traffic jams, roadside informal trade, lack of sewerage systems and poor quality roads among others.
Part of Ngong road has been developed from the previous one to a double lane to ease traffic congestion.
The project is part of the construction and infrastructure upgrades meant to elevate Nairobi city’s status and its environs and achieve Vision 2030 objective of transforming the country’s position to a middle-income economy.
It took three phases with sections including Dagoretti Corner-Karen Roundabout (6.2km), Karen Road (1.9km), and a small section of Lang’ata Road from Karen Shopping Center (1.7km).
“Ngong is now more accessible and appealing to investors thanks to the Kenyan government’s investment in infrastructure projects including road and rail networks, which has increased demand,” said Marshal Mutei, sales manager at Lordship Africa.
Mr Mutei reckons that urbanisation and population growth have increased demand for inexpensive housing options in adjacent communities such as Ngong.
Land prices in neighbouring towns in Nairobi and Kiambu counties rose due to improved infrastructure including the Thika Superhighway that saw land in Juja appreciate to new highs and the Nairobi Expressway, which opened up towns such as Syokimau.
Suburbs are more expensive than satellite towns with an acre of land in Karen going for Sh65.4 million and up to Sh70 million while Upperhill, the most expensive place in Nairobi goes for between Sh491 million to Sh552.7 million.
“People are trying to look for the quiet, cool places and if you can’t afford areas like Karen you opt for Ngong,” said Collins Chacha the head of marketing at Homes Universal.
“Although it took five years to build the Ngong-Kibiko road and the Ngong SGR station, their completion had a greater positive impact on the neighbourhood than was initially anticipated,” said Mr Mutei.
He adds that “due to the construction of the southern by-pass as well as the Isinya-Kiserian bypass and the growth of Kitengela, Magadi, Nairobi, and Ongata Rongai, Ngong is now reachable via a variety of highways.”