These were the words of the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Public Works Principal Secretary Prof  Paul Mwangi Maringa (State Department of Public Works) during the Construction and Real Estate Awards held at Heron Portico, Nairobi.

The PS challenged built environment professionals on the necessity of enabling ‘All Kenyans afford our services.’

‘Our Urban Centres are increasing by 500,000 dwellers per year. We have houses sprawling towards Kiambu and Muranga and we have the challenge of ensuring dignified living for all these people.’ he pointed out.

The PS reiterated on the importance of developing ‘Smart Cities’ which he insisted was not just ‘using ICT to organize and analyze info’ but also ‘green, blue, walkable and bikable which must be safe, clean, well articulated with places to eat, good housing environment and self sustaining communities.

He pointed out the existential problem of informal settlements in African Cities. Having mapped over 800 informal villages in the city of Nairobi as part of his doctoral thesis, Prof Maringa is very familiar with the challenges these places face which he insists that we need to eradicate.

From a business perspective, he reminded Kenyans that building 500,000 homes also means a minimum of 2 million doors, 4 million square metres of tiles, 1 million windows and window planes and 10 million paintable surfaces.

The GoK intends to provide land as factor of production to enable the private sector to put up 2000 units per county. Here, they will use an ‘Off-take argument’ other than normal tendering in order the speed up the process. Planning authorities are also being pushed towards having more efficient approval processes.

These were the first CORE awards that focused on Sustainability, Innovation and Excellence. They also encompassed the ‘Young Achievers Competition’that brought together multi sectoral inter-university teams in developing sustainable masterplans.

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