Sh1bn water project to fire up Naivasha trade hub prospects

Naivasha inland container depot

A train arrives at the Naivasha inland container depot at Maai Maihu, Nakuru County, in 2020.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Piping from the main water reservoir in Naivasha is already complete.
  • Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki described the project as a game-changer.

The drive to make Naivasha a major economic hub is gathering pace following the completion of a Sh955 million water project that will serve the special economic zone.

The Nation has learnt that the project is expected to pump at least eight million litres of water daily to the industrial park and the inland container depot.

Piping from the main water reservoir in Naivasha is already complete. Water Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki described the project as a game-changer.

“The park is one of the government’s major projects and we are happy to report that water supply to businesses is guaranteed. The project is being implemented at a cost of Sh955 million,” said the CS.

“The project, which is about 98 percent complete, involves pumping of water from the Naivasha borehole to the main tank at Longonot and onward to the inland container depot, construction of a 4,000-metre-cube reinforced concrete tank and gravity mains from the main tank at Longonot to the elevated tanks at the industrial park, among other things,” explained the CS.

The Nation has learnt that residents of Longonot and Mai Mahiu where the pipeline passes through stand to benefit from water kiosks that will sell the commodity at subsidised rates.

More than 50 local investors have already expressed their interest to set up shop at the Naivasha Special Economic Zone. The Nation has established, that various firms dealing in textiles, motor vehicle assembly, gas, animal feeds, mobile phones, foods and beverages, paper among others have applied to take up space on the 50 acres.

Access to cheap electricity

Some of the firms are Cactus Ventures, Digiera Logistics Enterprises Ltd, Mabati and Steel Enterprises, Buffloc Investment, Metro Contractors, Trigger Agencies and Suppliers Ltd and Sepima Ltd. Others are Apex Resort, Kester Kenya Ltd, Barebone Company, Bahati Africa Ltd, Gatke International Ltd, Ng’awam Ltd, Bonzo Investment Ltd, Mwachecom General Construction Ltd, Kika One Sixty Five Ltd, Regence Enterprises, Utugi Enterprises, Eserian Ltd and Donfab Enterprises Ltd.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last year issued a title deed for the land. Trade and Tourism Executive Raymond Komen urged more local businesses to take up space there.

“We encourage local investors, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to apply for space at the Special Economic Zone [and] enjoy cheaper power and favourable taxes,” he said. Mr Komen yesterday revealed that the Special Economic Zone will comprise residential areas, commercial zones, hotels, shopping malls, light industries and petrol stations.

The businesses will enjoy access to cheap electricity from the Olkaria geothermal power plant, infrastructure that will facilitate a wide range of activities such as storage, export and re-export, cheap railway transport to and from Mombasa and special taxes in line with provisions of the Fiscal Incentives Act, 2015.

In June, the government allocated Sh20.5 billion to the manufacturing sector in the 2021/2022 financial year.

The government said it aims to support value addition and raising share of manufacturing to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 15 percent by 2022.

Treasury allocated Sh350 million for development of the Naivasha Industrial Park, Kenanie Leather Industrial Park and Athi River Textile Hub.

Some Sh8.3 billion will go to the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone, Sh59.2 million for the modernisation of cooperative cotton ginneries, Sh130.2 million for Rift Valley Textiles, and Sh210 million to revamp the coffee industry.

Geothermal energy economy

Governor Lee Kinyanjui said investors are trooping to Nakuru due to its central location, good infrastructure, affordable power, the upcoming airport in Lanet, the railway line connecting Naivasha, Mombasa and Kisumu.

“We are anticipating a boom in geothermal power production, which will in turn open up exciting opportunities for investors. We want geothermal energy to support the economic fortunes of Nakuru,”Mr Kinyanjui said.

“Nakuru is famed for tourism and flamingoes, on top of that, we are rebranding ourselves as a geothermal energy economy,” he added.

Some of the Nairobi-based companies that are interested in expanding to Naivasha are Marimo Construction Ltd, Enkavilla properties Ltd, Cool Breeze Gardens, Swing Valley Group, Pick and Go Ltd, Edge Advantage Ltd, Nyawawa Ltd, Tristesil Ltd and Enka engineering Ltd.

Potential investors from Kiambu include Kereitta Enterprises Ltd, Cascade Company Ltd, K. Pipes and Fitting Centre Ltd and Thika View Service Station.

Since 2018, Mr Kinyanjui’s administration has been luring investors from India, Oman, Europe, United States, the Netherlands among other countries.

East Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry director representing Kenya, Mr Kamau Njuguna, told the Nation that the interest by investors to set up base in the region is a clear indication that Nakuru is the most preferred investment destination in the country.

“Governor Lee Kinyanjui should use the goodwill to fast-track the upgrade of infrastructure and boost health and water services in the region as the demand for these services will peak over the next five years as more investors troop to Naivasha and other towns in the county,” said Mr Kamau.

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