Arecent survey on the Gross County Product by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics was a shocker as it showed that Nakuru is the second biggest economy after Nairobi, ahead of city host counties like Mombasa and Kisumu.
The county’s 6.1 percent contribution to the economy, second to Nairobi’s 21.7 percent may rise further following ongoing and planned industrial developments expected to create more wealth and employment opportunities.
The county is experiencing and influx of mega industries with multinationals as well as government investing billions of shillings to set up manufacturing plants in mostly in Naivasha, Gilgil and Rongai and Njoro Sub counties.
Egerton and Kabarak Universities have joined the fray by setting establishments that will offer raw materials and employment to locals while at the same time providing market for their produce. Egerton has finalized plans to build an agro-industrial park at its Ngongongeri farm Njoro which is aimed at enhancing agro-prossecing in the highly productive region.
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Nakuru is also referred to as Kenya food basket and has a big workforce.
Chancellor Narendra Raval said the establishment which sits on a 200acre piece of land was meant to create employment, improve livelihoods, reduce post-harvest losses, ensure food security and accelerate economic growth.
“The facility, which is a first in the country will integrate strategic infrastructure development, technological and agricultural practice innovation and efficient and sustainable use of natural resources to fast track agro-industrial development of Kenya,” said Raval.
Kabarak University which is at the neighbouring Rongai sub county has also started is also investing in a multi-million Smart City which will be strategically placed to benefit counties in North and Central Rift regions.
The university is also sourcing for funds to establish a solar power plant aimed and injecting 10megawatts to be supplied to the smart city, Kabarak University, Moi High School Kabarak and Moi Primary School with the surplus being injected to the national grid.
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Others that have set businesses in the populous country are Oserian Industrial Park, Rift Valley Cabro, Simba Cement, Naivasha Industrial Park, Sameer Agriculture and Livestock Industry, Gilgil Industrial Park, Kengen Textile City Park and steel manufacturer, Royal Industries Group just to mention a few.
Oserian Development Company has diversified its activities into a mega industrial park that will have various commercial developments which will include a business park, a flower business park and an industrial park.
The multi-billion development on a 1,650 acre piece of land has been entrusted to Oserian Two Lakes to bring into realisation the broad idea of establishing ultra-modern hospitals, schools, housing facilities, shops and warehouses.
This is a major win for oserian and a welcome idea to resident considering that other big flower farms in the lakeside town of Naivasha have closed shop due to harsh economic times in the past one decade.
All these developments are coming at a time when the once vibrant industrial hub is readying to be upgraded to a city with Naivasha becoming a dry port after the completion of the Standard Gage Rail phase II.
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The influx of industries in Nakuru is seen as a turn-around for the county which was once home to mega industries such as Eveready East Africa, Milling Corporation of Kenya, Nakuru Oil Mills, Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, Elliot Bakery, Elianto and Valley Bakers, Coca cola’s Flamingo Bottlers, Kabazi Canners, Nakuru Blankets among many others.
Nakuru has experienced two long decades of dwindling industries with droves of people being rendered jobless with a ripple effect of higher poverty levels.
Since the mid-90s to early 2017, big industries had been closing shop leaving the expansive Industrial Area of the fourth largest town to small industries, empty warehouses and garages.
The big employers closed shop while those that remained namely Tosti, Spin-Knit, Mea Limited, Njoro Canners and Mea Limited were shells of their previous forms.
The problem was compounded the subsequent closure of government parastatals like Agricultural Development Corporation farms (ADC)Kenya Farmers Association, Kenya Planters Cooperative and Kenya Railways.
However, devolution seems to have come with good fortunes and the situation looks promising ones again.
The hotel industry is also thriving with tens of new hotels being opened in the major town in the county every year.
Hospitals are being upgraded as Nakuru Referral Hospital formerly known as Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital gearing up to become a national referral hospital.