Nakuru, a County of business opportunities abound
10 November 2014, 09:41
Nakuru - In October, the attractiveness of Kenya as a preferred country for investments got bolder following the commissioning of a 140 megawatt geothermal plant in Olkaria area in Nakuru county, located in the Rift Valley region.
Long-term benefits of consuming the green energy are expected to translate to low cost of electricity, a fair relief to manufacturers who have overtime decried high cost of power taking away a huge 60 percent from their earnings.
By the end of the year, the Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Kengen) would have enhanced the capacity of the national grid by 280 megawatts, as 140 megawatts will be generated from the plant.
More of the renewable energy is also to be tapped from the geothermal fossils in Menengai Crater still found in Nakuru County, which puts Kenya in the league of U.S., Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, New Zealand, Iceland, Japan and El Salvador.
The renewable energy not only lifted the image of the country as a region with a promising business friendly environment, but also changed historically the status of Nakuru County locally, regionally and internationally.
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"In the world map, Nakuru County has a special pointer as an area with great natural resource, creating a huge impact on the overall economic development of Kenya as a developing country," says Nakuru County governor Kinuthia Mbugua.
Nakuru County located in the Rift Valley of Kenya lies to the northwestern side of the capital city of Nairobi.
Its fame lies in the enormous attractive sites within its boundaries including the world renowned Lake Nakuru National Park, the country's black rhino sanctuary. Hells Gate, Hyrax prehistoric hill, Lake Elementaita popularly known as the flamingo blanket, Mt Longonot and Menengai Crater are among the magnificent sceneries attracting more than 200,000 tourists to the country annually.
The county government intends to spend 112,000 U.S. dollars in transforming Menengai Crater into a major tourist site to attract local and foreign tourists.
"Menengai Crater does not only have the potential for the geothermal power but also tourism. With public-private partnership we can make major investments in the surrounding area thereby creating many job opportunities," notes Michael Wang'ombe, chairperson of the county committee on tourism, trade and industrialization.
In the last 18 months, the county's rich economic potential has drawn various investors with interest to put up world class hospitality facilities, solar energy and fertilizer firm among others.
Investors from South Africa have already set eyes in a Naivasha site to set up a five-star hotel, while others from China also intend to put a similar facility in Nakuru town.
These are two towns in the county which have equally gained popularity in the international arena.
Nakuru town was in 2010 recognized as the fastest growing town in East and Central Africa by the UN-Habitat in consideration of its progressive performance in social and economic standards.
The 2012 report on global conference tourism destination rankings by the International Congress and Convention Association ranked Naivasha, about 90 km northwest of Nairobi, as the second most preferred destination after Mombasa.
This high ranking of Nakuru County increases its visibility for major investments which in the long term result to massive changes in the social living standards of the locals as Professor Tom Nyamache, an economist, put.
"An investor is always concerned about making good returns from his investments and therefore he must always consider a location that always has a market, a characteristic that Nakuru County already features," he said.
In the list of the major developments planned for the county before 2017 include establishment of a solar firm generating 50 megawatts of power.
Dongfang Electric International Corporation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nakuru county government last year to set up the solar firm in a 100-acre piece of land.
"We are incorporating the Ministry of Energy in the solar project, because we know it is of national interest," says Muriithi Kiogora, director of energy and environment in the county government.
With the county's plan to use solar power to light up its street lights, generation of the environmental friendly energy would therefore steer the leadership's development project.
Nyamache said the devolved units like Nakuru County provide expanded opportunities for growth in the industrial, agricultural, hospitality and manufacturing sectors.
"Investors are exploring business opportunities in the counties, and it is therefore essential that the leadership in the devolved units provide a favorable framework that will attract many of them to invest," he said.
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