Kenya: How Kilifi's Vipingo Village Transformed From Sisal Farm Into a Model City

Vipingo in Kilifi was once a sleepy rural village renowned for its acres and acres of sisal plantations as well as fishing communities.

Now the area along Malindi-Mombasa highway, is slowly changing thanks to modern residential estates, commercial and industrial developments.

The transformation of the area started after Centum, through Vipingo Development, bought 10,254 acres of land in Kilifi from Rea Vipingo for about Sh2 billion in 2015.

The firm started transforming the face of the area through property development, and soon various investors took notice and angled for a share of the opportunities in the areas.

Prominent developments include 440 apartments, 74 maisonettes in a residential estate, large scale leisure and shopping centre, a large scale agricultural activity specifically sisal growing and road infrastructure.

The above developments are now lifting surrounding communities from shackles of poverty through job creations.

An economic impact survey showed that the project had injected an estimated Sh5.5 billion into Kilifi County's economy besides creating more than 3,000 jobs in a span of two-years.

"In a relatively short period of time, Vipingo Development has developed a model city on affordable housing and industrialisation in a locality that previously didn't maximise on its economic potential," Vipingo Development Managing Director Kenneth Mbae said.

Already, construction of a 10,000 square feet shopping mall, a food processing factory, warehouses, and a water desalination plant are ongoing. These constructions have created 1,500 direct jobs and an equivalent number of indirect jobs, according to a county survey.

Real estate

"Before this real estate project came to this area I couldn't hold a regular job but for the past two years I have worked here non-stop and that has stabilised me and my family financially," said Ummy Nyadzua, a mason and now safety officer who was among the first cohort of sponsored vocational trainees hired by the contractor in 2018.

Fifty-four local-based suppliers and contractors have partnered with the project contractors to offer various services within the real estate value chain.

"The most impactful outcome of the two-year development journey is the pace of expansion achieved by local businesses, landlords and increased investments in neighbouring shopping centres to support the project's workforce in terms of increased food, accommodation, and transport demand," Mr Mbae said while quoting the report.

Kilifi County Governor Amason Kingi said: "You could get land here for Sh10 million an acre, today you need Sh15 million to Sh20 million an acre, and the value keeps increasing."

Whereas shop owners reported doubling stock turnover, rental rates increased by 15 percent amid high demand for spaces.

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