Mombasa is a lovely place to visit. The history of the city is well known by many and its most famous export, Swahili, is now spoken in faraway places such as Malawi and the DRC. However, what is not patently known about Mombasa and the coastal region, is its resilience and its ability to reinvent itself as a critical conurbation on the face of the region. This re-invention has been captured perfectly in the Mombasa City Vision 2035 plan.
It is the seat of the coastal County and the de-facto gateway into East Africa. It is and has been the entry point for most goods destined for Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda-Burundi and the DRC. Because of this massive hinterland market, the government of Kenya spearheaded the SGR. A project aimed at increasing efficiencies and reducing the cost of servicing our customers across the borders.
In addition, new oil jetties and cruise terminals are being planned and opened up by the Kenya Ports Authority every so often. The Dongo Kundu Pass highway shall open up access to Likoni and other parts of the county across the channel.
Mining in Kwale County has also brought a different angle to the dynamics at the coast. Kwale is largely under-developed and lacks the infrastructure to host all the incoming professionals and settler populations. Mombasa, being very near and having adequate facilities, has had to accommodate them. There has been an increase in local tourism from this incoming populations and an increased pressure for diversification of the same. Schools and other supporting industries, like Ramisi Sugar Company have also been setup to service these needs.
Tourism opportunities in Tsavo, Diani, and in Kwale and Kilifi counties as well as the many planned Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with Communal Libraries, Social Halls, Universities, affordable community housing schemes, Religious centers, golf courses, as well as the massive planned 60,000 seater Stadium at Mtwapa, all aim to increase the appeal of Mombasa as a coastal hub, and diversify the tourism portfolio of the county.
There is a planned high-speed rail connection to the Island from the Moi International Airport in Changamwe, which is itself seeing new untapped Tourism players apply for direct entry. Russians, Turks, Eastern Europeans and the recently landlocked Ethiopians have discovered the pleasures of Mombasa beaches, now almost empty after all the travel warnings from other traditional visitors. Security has been beefed up and the opening up of more facilities like the Tudor Luxury apartments and the English-point Marina, shows the ebullience and confidence investors have in Mombasa.
On its part, the county government of Mombasa, has released to the public its development footprint, a collective vision of the future of the coastal region and Mombasa as its hub. It is dubbed the INTEGRATED STRATEGIC URBAN DEVELOPMENT PLAN: MOMBASA VISION 2035. This document is juicy, with massive opportunities for professionals to engage in at all levels including online approvals portal and uploading architectural visualization videos of the same.
The hope is that in future, Mombasa will be a working destination not just a holiday destination for professionals in the building industry. Besides, a good client is one who knows that the distance between Mombasa and Nairobi is only 45 minutes.
The writer, Stephen Lutta, is a graduate architect and travel enthusiast at Africana Travel Company. He can be reached on his Twitter page OR via firstname.lastname@example.org