Monday, April 13, 2009


The Kenyan Somali Business Association of Eastleigh is planning to ban the non-Kenyan Somali community from undertaking development initiatives after it emerged that some of their activities were contributing to skyrocketing property prices and ill motives practices in competition.

It has emerged that the Kenyan Somali’s in the Diaspora were bringing a total of $50 million monthly for massive investments in the real estate and other business ventures that has consequently led to soaring prices of land. This has more than doubled rents and houses where the community has settled.

Mr Abdillahi Hassan, the association’s spokesman said the hardest hit areas include Nairobi’s Eastleigh where prices of land have more than doubled. In some instances properties are sold long before they are ready for occupation. According to Hassan, the Somali businessmen have migrated from North Eastern Kenya to escape drought to join together and venture into business. But when they try to make some investments, it becomes impossible for them to compete with non-kenyan somalis who albeit of being welcomed by their kinsmen in kenya have devised ill motives in competition.

"But when we buy the property, we are surprised that the price shoot up and we are forced to part with almost three times the normal price ," Mr Hassan said. He said as a community from the Northern part of Kenya, the Somali’s of Kenyan origin found it difficult to thrive economically given the harsh climatic conditions and the high lending rates by the mainstream banks.

Emergence of malls

"Most of us do not have funds to steer economic growth in our home areas and the only way we can strive is by engaging in business ventures in urban areas" said Hassan. He says in North Eastern lacks infrastructure, schools and other social amenities hence leading to heavy migration of the Somalis to urban centres leaving North Eastern towns under-developed.

For instance, what started as ‘Garissa Lodge’ dukawallas in early 1990s have turned into an avalanche of international merchants importing goods from China, India, Malaysia and even Europe. Shopping malls have sprung up in Nyeri, Nakuru, Eldoret, Mombasa and Kisumu. "For us it is common for people to come together under a trust of between 20 to 30 people to purchase plots for construction of multi million shopping malls," says Hassan.