The Kenyan government has opened bids for the construction of Nairobi Railway City, a large mixed-used development expected to expand and transform Nairobi’s central business district. 

Built on 425 acres surrounding Nairobi Railway Station, the project will be completed in three phases over the course of the next 20 years.

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The Kenyan government is seeking a master developer, as well as developers for the master plan’s specific precincts, with an initial focus on basic infrastructure. 

Infrastructure costs are expected to reach 27.9bn Kenyan shillings ($250m). By far, the largest chunk of infrastructure costs is the expected 17.6bn shillings needed to move existing above-ground railway tracks underground, followed by water supply and roadworks. 

Eleven specific precincts will be developed on top of the basic infrastructure, including a redeveloped central station, a conference and exhibition centre, a government office area, an international office area, an R&D zone anchored by an expansion of the Technical University of Kenya, a high-tech industrial zone, and a commercial street. 

Upon completion, the development is expected to create more than 200,000 jobs and house 28,000 residents, and it will more than double the size of Nairobi’s central business district. 

Nairobi Railway City is not Kenya’s first mega-project, with its scale and ambition recalling the even larger Konza Technopolis, a $14.5bn city of 200,000 residents being built from scratch 64km south-east of Nairobi. 

Konza Technopolis has struggled to live up to its ambitious targets, initially aiming to attract 20,000 residents by 2020 but now expecting that even basic infrastructure will not be complete until 2022. 

Nairobi Railway City may avoid the delays that have plagued Konza Technopolis, with its emphasis on university ties and high-tech industry targeting many of the same economic benefits of Konza but on a smaller scale and in a prime location in central Nairobi. 

Interested investors must respond to the government’s tender by August 20, and must be able to demonstrate prior experience financing and developing large infrastructure projects similar to Nairobi Railway City.