From hosting a flourishing horticultural sector that employs thousands of workers to a booming hospitality industry, Naivasha is fast rising as a commercial hub in the region.
And the recent move by Kenya to offer Uganda land for the building of a dry port is even raising the town’s stakes higher. Investors are watching keenly the unfolding scenario, and will certainly angle themselves to cash in on the opportunities expected to be created by the setting up of two dry ports at the lake side town.
President Uhuru Kenyatta recently announced during President Yoweri Museveni’s visit that Nairobi would provide land for Kampala to develop a dry port for its cargo.
Nakuru county Tourism executive member, Raymond Komen, said the move will spur economic growth in the county and Naivasha in particular.
“Although the details of the agreement are scanty, one thing that’s quite obvious is job creation… to me it is an excellent idea and in line with our county development plans,” he said.
Mr Komen pointed out that with two cargo depots in Naivasha, the ripple effect will be enormous with the players from the hospitality sector expected to directly benefit from influx of traders.
“The traders from Uganda and other states within the region will lodge in Naivasha and that means increased business for hoteliers and traders within the satellite towns,” added Mr Komen. Further gains, he noted, include the setting up of export-oriented firms that will access cheap energy from the nearby power generating company KenGen #ticker:KENGEN .
“It also means the centralisation of cargo for both countries which will also act as a dispatch point for goods being ferried within the East African states,” said Mr Komen.
He said Nakuru County is ready to offer logistical support to ensure the proposed project is a success, adding that the county is keen on exploiting available business prospects.
The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture director in charge of East Africa, Njuguna Kamau, also welcomed the Ugandan project.
“When we talk of Eastern Africa trading bloc, it basically means exploiting opportunities that will ensure that involved countries reap gains accruing from a favourable trading partnership,” he said. Mr Kamau told off those opposed to trade partnership, describing the pact as “a win-win situation for the two countries.”
He said Uganda is Kenya’s biggest client for transit cargo.
“Having Naivasha as cargo distribution point will mean growth in the housing sector, transport sector and other areas of economic importance including ‘mama mboga’ selling her wares in a stall,” he said.
The town will attract more people who will need housing, especially those who will seek employment in the cargo depots, he noted.
Naivasha Professionals Association (NPA) Secretary General, Absalom Mukuusi said the setting up of the Ugandan port will boost the town’s attractiveness to investors.
“Endowed with tremendous valuable natural resources, the county is also a cosmopolitan magnet for high number of entrepreneurs, innovators and a capable human capital,” he stated. The proposed industrial park in Naivasha, where export-oriented firms will access cheap power as well as affordable transport via the standard gauge railway to the Mombasa port, is also expected to be a game-changer.