President William Ruto on Sunday (October 1) declared his intention to transform the Kibera informal settlement into a modern residential area by the time he’s done with his second term in office, should he be re-elected.
Speaking at Deliverance Church Langat’a, Dr Ruto revealed the government's ambitious plans to build 200,000 houses in Nairobi over the next five years, with the twin goals of alleviating the country's pressing slum crisis and creating jobs for the youth.
President Ruto’s plan to develop Kibera is in line with the government's wider initiative of eradicating slums in towns and cities.
"We have an ambitious plan to transform Kibera into a well-developed estate as a key part of our comprehensive slum eradication programme. Within a decade, Kibera will have undergone a remarkable transformation and we are committed to eradicating all slums," President Ruto said.
This comes a week after he assessed the progress of the Mukuru social housing project in Mukuru, Nairobi. During the visit, he revealed that the project is expected to create jobs for about 4,000 local youths.
The Kenya Kwanza administration intends to build at least 250,000 houses a year over the next five years.
According to the government, this initiative has the potential of benefiting more than six million Kenyans by providing them with affordable and quality housing.
Affordable housing units are also being built in several other areas, including Soweto B in Kibera, Ruiru, Pangani, Starehe, Shauri Moyo, Homa Bay and Mavoko. There are also plans to build 200 houses in each of the country's 290 constituencies.
However, the Head of State acknowledged that there have been challenges and misconceptions, particularly around funding, as he expressed confidence that, as the government continues to communicate its vision and intentions, citizens will be able to understand the impact of the initiative.
In August, the Kenya Kwanza administration backdated the mandatory contribution to the housing fund proposed in the Finance Act 2023 to July1.
"There have been misunderstandings and challenges in terms of funding. But we believe that people will eventually understand our vision and intentions," he said.
Emphasising the dual purpose of the housing project, the President said the housing plan will also open up more employment opportunities.
"The housing initiative has a purpose, the first of which is the increased employment opportunities it provides. In Mukuru kwa Njenga, where we are building 15,000 houses, our vision is to employ 4,000 young people exclusively from Mukuru," he said.
The President also revealed the establishment of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hubs in every ward to create jobs for the youth.
"Our second agenda is to establish an ICT hub in every ward and we want 300-500 youths to be employed. Google, Intel and Apple are looking for digital workers and these workers will be Kenya's youth," he explained.
The President revealed that several multinational technology companies have expressed strong demand for a significant workforce, seeking close to 300,000 employees.
"We have been negotiating with many companies. I was in the US and I visited Google, Intel, Apple and all these companies are looking for employees," he said.
President Ruto further said that food production was a big challenge as he acknowledged the criticism the government has faced in the past for organising a national prayer day focused on the issue, but revealed an encouraging plan for the future.
"One of the challenges we are facing is food production. People criticised us when we organised a national prayer day, but now we are planning to distribute seven million units of fertiliser next year, a significant increase from the initial four million. Our aim is to fight drought and hunger by supporting our farmers," the President said.
President Ruto emphasised the importance of unity, faith and cooperation in achieving these ambitious goals. His vision, he pointed out, was of a country where informal settlements are transformed, unemployment is reduced and the future is filled with opportunity and prosperity for all citizens.
"I am happy that our nation believes in God. We want to work together across political lines, from the President to the MCA, to serve the people of Kenya and make our country safer," he said.