Saturday, 17 December 2011

Kenya rearing to become a PPP playing field


Demand for infrastructure exceeds Govt.’s ability to finance
An Estate: This 500 unit estate will use several septic Tanks 
After the massive construction of Major roads and other transport infrastructure, Kenya is set to  embark on another round of developments of social infrastructure. The country is experiencing a major shortage of houses which has buoyed activity in the housing development sector.

Demand for houses, says the government’s official data is 150,000 units a year while supply is just about 30,000 to 40,000 units a year leaving a yawning gap of 110,000 units. Activity in the housing sector has been boosted by the development in roads which has opened up many areas within Nairobi City and its satellite towns. Still demand is way ahead of supply.

Adding to the pressure is the new constitution that has devolved governance to the regions creating 47 county governments. These new governments and their attendant bureaucracy will demand offices and residential houses and related infrastructure in the regions.

These individual units  use Pit Latrines

This means that Kenya, which cannot supply the entire required infrastructure from the exchequer sources, will soon become a major player in PPP projects in East Africa.  The demand for such infrastructure is expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years or so making the country a major market for real estate and related infrastructure development, say experts. 

The expanse in the foreground and
 background is crying for investors
In the recent past-the private sector, buoyed by ready availability of finance- has moved in to cash in on the demand. But even then demand still exceeds demand by leaps and jumps.

This means that there is room for more investors in the real estate sector to develop the required infrastructure. While the private sector has developed housing units purely on commercial basis, there is one area that has largely been neglected. That is waste water transportation and management systems. A Majority of urban centres, most of which are new and some whose growth will be driven by the devolution of governments, do not sewerage and waste water treatment plants.

This problem is especially critical in urban areas surrounding Nairobi due to the movement of people and businesses from the city to the Satellite towns. Such urban area as; Ruiru, Ruai, Athi River and Ongata Rongai have posted significant growth in economic activity without  concomitant growth in social infrastructure, including  sewerage systems.

A recent situation analysis by the Kenya government reported that, only 14 per cent of Kenya’s urban towns have sewerage systems. It also reported that most of them were old ranging between 20-40 years and poorly maintained. Consequently, said the report, the facilities have deteriorated and do not meet increasing demand leading  to frequent bursts due to overloading.

Kenya has a mixed sewer system which receives both domestic waste and industrial effluent. Industrial waste water, by law, should be pre-treated on site before discharge into the municipal sewer system is discharged without raw due to laxity in enforcing the law. Industrial effluent is a major pollutant of water sources and the environment

Failure to pre-treat industrial waste water leads to sewer bursts due to blockages from suspended solids, corrosive effluent and secondary reactions of effluent in the sewer line, experts say.
 A survey by this publication in the above named urban areas established that, most estates have built communal or individual Septic tanks while many other developments have Pit Latrines. These are emptied when full by exhausters at high cost. The high cost of emptying the tanks, this publication has established, is an incentive for some to empty their septic tanks into public places. This contributes to poor hygiene and environmental degradation. 

Since local authorities are strapped for cash, they are unlikely to invest in sewerage systems any time soon. Although figures are not readily available, experts say that the investment is colossal.
Therefore they called on the government to consider establishing a PPP framework in the sewerage sector to tap private sector finance and management of the sewerage systems in the country.

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