Universities have occupied prime office spaces in Central Business Districts, in major towns at the expense of Small and Medium Enterprises, writes GABRIEL KAMAU
Beatrice Kimani works as a personal assistant to the managing director of a leading real estate firm in Nairobi. In January 2010, the mother of two girls aged six-and-a-half and four, decided to go back to school to advance her career. In about a month’s time (July), she will be graduating with a degree in Business Administration, Human Resource option, from the Kenya Methodist University (Kemu), after three years of study.
?? Beatrice is happy that over the past three years, she has been able to work and continue with her studies.
?? “With a husband, two children and a full-time job, I could only manage evening classes. Once I was through with my office work for the day, I would dash for classes and then commute back home to Pangani to be with my family,” Beatrice, who has been taking her course at the university’s Nairobi campus, says.
?? “They (Kemu) have made my life easy by having a campus in the city,” she adds.
?? As demand for further education by Nairobi’s working class increases, universities have made inroads into the central business district( CBD), setting up campuses at strategic locations to tap into this demand. Other major towns like Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Thika, Nyeri, Kisii, Homa Bay and Eldoret are not spared either.
?? Kemu, for instance, says on its website that it started re-engineering its academic programmes in 2005/2006 “to meet market and customer needs”. To effect this, it opened satellite campuses in Nairobi, Nakuru, Nyeri and Mombasa “to increase access to higher education in (these) regions”.
?? Beatrice has been attending classes at Kemu’s Nairobi campus located on University Way, a walking distance from her workplace in the central business district.
?? St Paul’s University’s Nairobi campus, on the other hand, is located in Church House on Moi Avenue, whereas Kenyatta University city campus is in Autorama House on Haile Selassie Avenue. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology has a branch at Pension Towers on Loita Street, while Africa Nazarene University’s city campus is located in Stanbank Building on Moi Avenue, adjacent to the Kenya National Archives.
Also not to be left out is Mount Kenya University, which is located at MKU Towers, a building it bought recently on Moi Avenue, Nairobi.
?? But what impact is this influx of institutions of higher learning into the CBD having on real estate in cities like Nairobi? How does this trend affect commercial rental levels and management of buildings in the city centre?