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New law paves way for more cities in Kenya

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday signed three Bills into law at State House, Nairobi, one of which redefines city status. The three Bills, which were assented by the President were Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill 2017, Petroleum Bill 2017 and Energy Bill 2017.

The Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Act will see the country have more cities than the three that already exist – Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa. The new Act dictates that the population required before an urban centre is declared a city be cut by half from 500,000 to 250,000.

This will see Nakuru town declared a city and others too, whose populations will soon reaching the required 250,000. For urban centres whose population is already above 200,000, it is only a matter of time before they get to the required population to be made cities. This is likely to happen after the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census, which will be held in August.

Here are some of the urban centres that are to be declared cities as a result of the new law and those that are bound to be as the population grows:


Nakuru is the only urban centre that is assured of being declared a city with a population of 307,990, according to Wikipedia. The town that dates back to the pre-colonial period will now become the fourth city of Kenya after being delayed for over a year.

In September 2017, Cabinet had approved the elevation of Nakuru town to city status. The only hindrance to making it a city was that the law previously dictated that urban centres had to have a population of 500,000 before attaining city status.

A number of bottlenecks have slowed the journey of one of Kenya’s oldest cities to be a city but for sure it now will be a city, the fourth city of Kenya.

As the government is planning to extend the Standard Gauge Railway to Kisumu, Nakuru will even grow more. In fact, Nakuru came to be because of the Kenya-Uganda railway in the pre-colonial period. It is currently the 4th largest most populated urban centre in the country after Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.


With a population of 289,380, Eldoret is bound to be declared a city sooner or later. The home of champions might just be the first Kenyan city with rich agricultural production.

Eldoret is known for being a centre of agriculture and trade. The town is surrounded by large-scale farmers both for cereals produce (maize and wheat) and livestock (milk). The town is therefore full of agricultural products most popular being the fermented milk, known as Mursik by the Kalenjin community.

Making Eldoret a city will also serve as a thank you to the many sportsmen and women who hail from there. A majority of prominent Kenyan athletes trace their home to Eldoret town from the legend Kipchoge Keino, Ezekiel Kemboi, Vivian Cheruiyot, Eliud Kipchoge and Nicholas Bett who died recently. All these legends made Kenya proud on the International arena and at least deserve to call their home a city.


Located 21 km from Nairobi City via the Thika Superhighway, Ruiru is one of the more developed satellite
towns in Kiambu County. Currently, Ruiru has a population of approximately 293,000 people with 45.7% of them being economically active, majority being businessmen, civil servants and bankers, according to Cytton Investments.

Ruiru has in the recent years changed face as land owners change and sell their large tracts of coffee
plantations into land for real estate. This is in tandem with the growing real estate market in Kenya, whose contribution to the country’s GDP has continuously grown in the past two decades, to 13.8% in 2016 from 10.5% in 2000. Contributions from agriculture to the GDP, on the other hand have continuously dipped to 23.1% in 2016 from 31.3% in 2000.

Land prices in Ruiru grew at a 5-year-CAGR of 23.9% in 2016, as per the Cytonn Land Report 2017. Though fairly nascent, real estate in the area offers high returns to investors with an average capital appreciation of 29.2%. The factors promoting the growth of real estate in the area include;

  •  Infrastructural Development: Ruiru town is just 21 km away from the CBD, with a good transport
    network. It is conveniently accessible through both the Thika Superhighway and also from Kiambu
    Road, Kamiti Road and Northern and Eastern Bypasses. Additionally, the town has been earmarked
    for the Nairobi Mass Rapid Transit System
  •  Commercial Industry: Predominantly a coffee area, Ruiru town also doubles up as an industrial
    hub evidenced by the various industrial parks in the peripheries of the town such as Spinners &
    Spinners Ltd, Brookside Dairy Ltd, Devki Steel Mills, as well Tatu Industrial park. The industrial
    sector ultimately creates demand for housing for the industrial workers
  • Ample Amenities: Ruiru has sufficient social amenities such as The Spur Mall and Kenyatta
    University’s Unicity Mall. In addition to this, the area has numerous education institutions across
    all levels. Ruiru also has sufficient water supply to support its growing populations with provision
    from Ruir-Juja Water and Sewerage Company and as well as natural sources
  •  Positive demographics: Majority of Ruiru’s population is a working population. Additionally, the
    area hosts majority of the young population from the local institutions of higher learning such as
    Kenyatta University, NIBS, and Zetech, among others, who create demand for residential units.
    Moreover, Ruiru is strategically placed in close proximity to the CBD and therefore acts as the
    bedroom suburb for job seekers.


The population of Malindi was 207,253 as of the 2009 census. It is the largest urban centre in Kilifi County.

Tourism is the major industry in Malindi. The town is popular among Italian tourists. Malindi is served with a domestic airport and a highway between Mombasa and Lamu. The nearby Watamu resort and Gedi Ruins are south of Malindi.

The Watamu and Malindi Marine National Parks form a continuous protected coastal area south of Malindi. The area shows classic examples of Swahili architecture. The majority of Malindi’s population is Muslim.

Read: Proposed law to tighten noose on rogue churches 

Malindi is home to the Malindi Airport and Broglio Space Centre (previously known as the San Marco Equatorial Range).

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Kevin Namunwa
Kevin Namunwahttp://www.businesstoday.co.ke
Kevin Namunwa is a senior reporter for Business Today. Email at [email protected].
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