Awaiting birth: energy cities in Kenya's arid lands

Pix. Vision2030 Secretariat

THEY WERE CONCEIVED AND  designed as resort cities, -sites meant to enhance Kenya’s tourism by extending the menu of products and destinations.  They are rich in tourism attractions. However, recent developments point to growth of mega cities where tourism will play a second fiddle to other economic activities.
In a bid to stem migration into the already congested cities and also to enhance and diversify tourism sector, Kenya will build several resort cities in the next couple of years. According to Kenya’s development blue print, vision 2030, the cities should be in place by 2030.
The cities will be located in Lamu,Kilifi and Kwale counties at the Coast and Isiolo and Turkana counties up country.
Conceptual designs of Isiolo and 
Turkana Resort Cities:
 mega cities waiting to happen
According to the web encyclopedia, Wikipedia, a resort city is a city where tourism or vacationing is a primary component of the local culture and economy. Most resort towns have one or more actual resorts in or nearby.  That is what is expected of the resorts at Kilifi and Kwale counties.

However, the other three namely Lamu, Isiolo and Turkana resort cities appears set for bigger things. The three are located on the Lamu Port South Sudan Transport Corridor (LAPSSET). This corridor will include a standard gauge railway line from Lamu Port to Juba in South Sudan, an highway linking the same locations and an Oil pipeline from South Sudan Oil fields to the Lamu port. See
Then developments in the energy sector, changed all that, the corridor is beginning to look like the energy corridor of east Africa. For one, oil  has been discovered in Turkana and depending on whether its commercial viability is confirmed, which according to experts is fait accompli, will change this corridor into an energy corridor, say analysts. Apart from oil, Turkana is also home to Africa’s largest wind power energy project, the 300MW Lake Turkana wind Power project. See
Studies are ongoing in Isiolo to establish the viability of a proposed 150MW wind power project  while another is also on-going for a 300MW wind power project in the neighbouring  Marsabit county. See
The Lamu port will comprise among others, oil refineries in addition to oil export jetties. In effect the entire corridor will produce, distribute or transport, and export energy products. Given the potential for energy to attract mega dollars analysts see these cities growing into mega energy cities, where tourism will play a secondary role. Not that anyone would complain.
Initially the (US$22billion) LAPSSET corridor was expected to generate an additional three percent a year to Kenya’s GDP when completed. However, with the discovery oil, it shall be expected to generate more Experts are yet to place a finger on the figure.
A dreamer's Paradise. Pix 
As resort cities, the three cities are endowed with rich natural heritage such as wildlife natural parks. Isiolo resort city for instance is bordered to the South by the world famous Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, to the north by Buffalo Springs and Shaba National Reserve, and Samburu Game Park and Ewaso Ng’iro River to the west. Other under exploited parks that stand to gain from the Isiolo resort city are; Mt Marsabit, Ruma; Rahole, Kitui, Bisanadi, and Kora parks. These parks abound with rare wildlife and other attractions including beautiful scenery.

Isiolo was catapulted to international fame by Movies that were shot at Shaba over the last two decades. These include; born Free, Out Of Africa, To Walk with Lions and CBS TV blockbuster series, Survivor Africa.  In effect Isiolo has scenery that rivals Hollywood.

The city will be built on a 6000 acres (2,630Ha) site at Kipsing Gap, 20KM outside Isiolo town. Preliminary estimates show that Isiolo city will cost kshs18.9 billion (US$220 million. The government has indicated that city will be developed on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis. The government is about to complete an international airport in Isiolo. It is also a junction city of the Mombasa-Nairobi- Addis Ababa highway and Lamu-Addis Ababa-railway line.

 It is not clear yet what are the estimates for Turkana resort city located at Eliye springs, on the shores of Lake Turkana, will cost more or less the same amount developed on the same terms as Isiolo city. Lake Turkana hosts three National parks namely: Sibiloi, Central Island and Southern island national parks. Loiyangalani the site of Africa’s largest wind power farm is located within to the South east of Lake Turkana.

Designed to mimic other world renowned resort cities in the world such as the sun city in Durban, South Africa and Dubai, the city will boast of; three and six-star hotels, a local art and craft museum, theatres for international festivals and international sports, Casinos discotheques, swimming pools, conference centres.  These are mega cities waiting to be born!


  1. Kenya has been quite inspiring in the recent past

    1. If only we adhere to the good plans and hope for impact, not losing direction

  2. The plans await the completion of the three berths at Lamu port


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

AfCTA: Time for action, less talk

Africa Needs More transport infrastructure- UNECA

Construction of Tanzania’s” bridge over the sea” begins