The Kenyan government is reportedly paving the way for China to build a new city just outside of the capital. Some 100 Chinese investors aim to build roughly 20 skyscrapers in the enclave, which is expected to become a shopping destination for products from China and other countries.
Just one of three similar developments planned around Nairobi, the $750 million “Chinese-controlled economic zone” will include luxury residences designed to match the “glamour of Dubai,” according to Construction Week Online.
There are a lot of Chinese in Kenya. There are a lot of Chinese all over Africa, but Kenya – eager to become East Africa’s most powerful nation – has laid many of its resources bare to investors in exchange for infrastructural development and a smattering of social and development programs.
The Lamu Port is one such initiative. Under dubious terms, China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) won tender to build a super port in a UNESCO-protected island on Kenya’s upper east coast. Here many people still live very close to the land and sea, and unspoiled mangroves and coral reefs are bound to be devastated.
(A subsidiary of this company has been given carte blanche to build a similar port and coal-burning plant in the equally beautiful Porthead Bight Protected Area – Chinese influence reaches across all reaches of the globe.)
On the one hand, the project along the Athi River in Machakos County promises to bring jobs to local people and improve their quality of life. But in reality, the Chinese typically import their own engineers and only employ locals for the most brutish of jobs; we won’t be surprised to find Kenyans dispossessed to make room for the foreign influx.
Chinese expatriates are often blamed for killing the local wildlife for food, not to mention their appetite for poached ivory and rhino horn, so perhaps Kenyans will be relieved to know that they will have access to products they are accustomed to.
But they won’t be impressed with how Kenya’s Vision 2030 Development Plan is likely to further overtax natural resources, create more pollution, and generate more traffic.
Construction is supposed to break ground later this year.
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