Inside Kenyatta Family Ksh500 Billion Investment

President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) greets his mother Mama Ngina Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta (left) greets his mother Mama Ngina Kenyatta

The family of the country's founding father Mzee Jomo Kenyatta is without a doubt one of the most influential in the country, having brought up two presidents who have served the country.

Another of the reasons that the family is well known is due to their immense wealth and investment spanning various sectors including the dairy, banking, hospitality, and real estate industries.

One of the family's most ambitious investments is the Ksh500 billion Northlands City, a project that envisions a real estate haven in Ruiru area, Nairobi.

According to a report by the Business Daily in 2016 when the project was conceived, the family set out to build the mixed-use development on an 11,000-acre farm currently housing its giant dairy processor Brookside.

An artist's impression of a part of Northland City after its completion.
An artist's impression of a part of Northland City after its completion.

The project was expected to incorporate among many low-to-high income residential areas, commercial space, a central business district, schools, an industrial area, and an agricultural zone.

According to the reports, a total of 3,570 acres were set aside for residential housing, including low-density residentials (3,134 acres), high-density residentials (306 acres), and medium density residentials (130 acres).

The medium residential area is expected to play host to 670 townhouses and 368 housing units in flats while the low-density area is reserved for 601 villas and 1,320 townhouses.

Northlands also plans for a high-density residential area on which blocks of flats having 6,980 housing units and 3,100 townhouses. 390 acres have been set aside for a business district, including 33 acres for a mall/hotel and two acres for a clubhouse.

The area is also strategically placed, being near Kenyatta University on one side, Thika Superhighway, Nairobi Central Business District (CBD), and the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

According to the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) report for the project in 2016, the different zones that will be brought into existence in Northlands City will play host to a population of 250,000 people.

The planners of the city were also reported to have set aside 695 acres for an industrial park, 650 acres for a logistics park, 1,697 acres as open recreational space of which 266 acres would possess water features.

The biggest portion of the land - 5,156 acres - has, however, been reserved for wildlife conservation and agriculture with Gicheha Farm, which keeps large herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, as the main occupant.

An artist's impression of another section of the Northlands City in Nairobi.
An artist's impression of another section of the Northlands City in Nairobi.

In May 2019, the government was forced to expand the Easter Bypass that connects Mombasa and Thika Road, which The Standard reported was informed by the fact that once the Northlands City is complete, almost 30,000 vehicles would be added onto the roads.

In June of the same year, the Kenyatta family put up land for sale to attract investors whose focus was on industries to inject funds on infrastructure development of Northland City.

The pieces of land in Kiambu were going for Ksh40million per acre and was estimated to be 103 acres in total that were aimed at the sale to raise money for the project.

The Northlands City has come under a lot of scrutiny of late, with activist and photojournalist Boniface Mwangi calling out the government for double standards over reclaiming land allegedly belonging to Deputy President William Ruto in Ruai and yet the Kenyatta family was one of the biggest landowners in the country.

The statements by the activist were echoed by digital strategist Dennis Itumbi who also stated that it was time to revisit and address the issue of land ownership in the country.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro also echoed the same sentiments in a thinly veiled attack on the Kenyattas as one of the families with huge tracts of land that, he claimed, they could not account for.

"I'm confident that after we're done with Ruai land and the saga around it, the momentum will be maintained as we interrogate how a few families (actually less than five) got to own more than half of Kenya.

"We keep hiding real facts under the carpet while pretending to appear "good". Let us know from whom they bought these parcels, who they paid and they must show us receipts if they have," Nyoro stated.