Plans to Build a "Chinese-Controlled Economic Zone" in Kenya

Plans to Build a “Chinese-Controlled Economic Zone” in Kenya

A 100-strong coalition of Chinese investors plan to build a "Chinese-controlled economic zone" in Kenya, made up of skyscrapers and luxury residences; with a goal to "match the glamour of Dubai".

The proposed zone outside of Nairobi would include "at least 20 skyscrapers, boasting a shopping destination that stocks Chinese and other global products," according to Construction Weekly. As investment increases in East Africa, they want to build a self-controlled pseudo-urban enclave of operation.

Additionally, according to The Daily Nation, there are already two other tabula rasa city development plans in place for the same area: Konza Techno City, a $14.5 billion development aimed at becoming the place where "the African silicon savannah begins"; the other being Machakos City, promising dozens of skyscrapers and acres of suburban homes. All of them are related to Kenya's Vision 2030 development plan, but it is not clear whether they will co-exist or be in direct competition.

As China are Africa's biggest trade partner, the country frequently trades the right to develop energy infrastructure for contributing to social welfare and health programmes, leading plenty of people to accuse China of acting as a neo-colonial force. In 2013, Kenyan officials signed a $5 billion agreement that is allowing China to build roads, railways and more infrastructure within the country.

All in all there are many unanswered questions about these projects, including who will design them and which will actually come into fruition. More may come to light when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visits Kenya in May, which Construction Weekly reports as a key indicator that some kind of development will happen.