Billion shilling Tatu City takes shape

From left: US Ambassador H.E. Robert Godec, Foreign Affairs CS Amina Mohammed, Nancy Muthoni of The Property Show, Tatu City acting CEO Antony Njoroge and Kiambu Governor William Kabogo during Tatu City ground-breaking ceremony over the weekend.

Construction of homes in the multi-billion shilling Tatu City has formally kicked off in a major breakthrough, following a five-year delay caused by director wrangles and court cases. Last Saturday’s development will calm anxiety among hundreds of buyers and investors in the project whose investments worth billions of shillings had been rendered idle since 2008.

US Ambassador Robert Godec led the groundbreaking in the symbolic event that could tell of a truce among the warring shareholders, ahead of the official visit by President Barack Obama in two weeks. “We hope firms establishing themselves in Tatu City will take advantage of Agoa and increase US-Kenyan trade for years to come,” Godec said. American investment company Rendeavuor had invested Sh10 billion in the project, including the infrastructure development such as road and sewerage

Tatu City will be home to more than 70,000 residents and 30,000 day visitors and create jobs during its 20-year, phased development. “We are pleased to bring American and other international capital to Kenya and Tatu City, a revolutionary urban development that eases the burdens of urbanisation on Nairobi and creates unique living and business opportunities for families and companies in Kenya’s growing economy,” said Frank Mosier, the lead American investor in Tatu City and Rendeavour.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed and Kiambu Governor William Kabogo were among the guests during the launch, coming after several false starts. The CS said: “We as a government are about attracting investment, creating jobs, creating opportunities and, of course, creating wealth. So for us, Tatu City is a showcase of the investment Kenya can really attract into the country.”

Godec’s presence could be an endorsement by the US of the mega housing project and Kenya’s first private municipality promoted by Rendeavuor. Having Ms Mohammed, the top diplomat in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, to grace the occasion could also be a pointer to the endorsement from State House – five years after then President Mwai Kibaki skipped a similar event last minute

American billionaire Frank Mosier, the managing partner of Kazimir Partners, is the co-lead investor in the project alongside his long-term colleague New Zealander Stephen Jennings. The duo founded and made a fortune in Moscow in the 1990s through Renaissance Capital Partners, at one time the single largest investment bank in Russia.

Renaissance has since set up subsidiaries in several African countries, including Kenya, where it is one of the 20 stockbrokerage houses at the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Jennings and Mosier have since left the investment bank to focus on developing urban communities such as Tatu City, in several African countries including Ghana and Zambia. Development of Tatu City has been held back by nearly five years with fresh details revealing for the first time the behind the scenes power play between the directors, way before the near-abortive official launch held on October 26, 2010 in Nairobi. An invite-only launch that would be graced by President Kibaki on that Tuesday mid-morning turned out rather lackluster when he failed to turn up moments before he was scheduled to speak.

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