At the corner of Nairobi’s Upper Hill Road and Haile Selassie Avenue, a giant is coming to life. The “Top of Africa” on the Carlton Centre in South Africa might have to change its name by December 2019 as Kenya’s “The Pinnacle” will have snatched the crown of highest man-made in the continent. The 50-floor and 223 metre strong Carlton Centre has been Africa’s tallest building since completion in 1973 but in 2020, that will be history.
On the 23rd of May 2017 Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan President had laid a foundation stone for what will be the tallest building in Africa in the Upper Hill neighbourhood of Nairobi. Kenya is serious about becoming the new economic frontier in the continent. Do not take the country seriously to your own peril.
According to President Kenyatta, “The Pinnacle” will be one of twin glass-façade towers rising above Nairobi.
It will be the larger of the two, standing at 300 metres which absolutely dwarfs the Carlton Centre. Dubai investors Hass Petroleum and White Lotus Group are said to be investing $200 million into the project. At this point it should be noted that Africa is spreading its wings and courting investment from unconventional partners in the East.
In fact, the towers will be built by China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) which is known for building the African Union headquarters in Ethiopia. The Kenyan publication, The Standard reports that the building will have 70 floors and house a 255 room Hilton Hotel. At the 42nd floor will be “a 5-star restaurant, the largest banqueting and conference facilities in Nairobi, a luxury spa and gym, and an open-air infinity pool as part of the two-tower development”. The building will also have Afria’s highest viewing deck at 900 feet and a helipad.
Hass Petroleum Executive Chairman for East and Central Africa Abdinasir Hassan said, “At over 800 feet, the highest on the continent, we thought it wise to put the helipad here so that people can fly directly to the hotel and beat Nairobi’s hectic traffic.”
The Pinnacle is not just a statement of intent by Kenya but a reflection of the property boom in the country. Innocent Mwangi, Managing Director of Jacent Properties in Nairobi says, “Kenya is a country under construction. There has been a property boom since 2003. The country’s focus on infrastructure development and economic rebirth has continued to fuel the property market.”
Tatu City Ltd.’s Josphant Kinua also said, “A sustained robust economic growth in the last ten or so years has led to demand for property and developers are simply fulfilling this need.”
According to Cytonn Investments, however, the demand for property in Kenya cannot be referred to as a real estate bubble as bubbles typically occur in well-established markets (Kenya is still in its nascent stage). Whatever the case may be, property is a viable investment in Kenya and foreign investors are hoping onto the train. Speaking of trains, the country recently launched a $3.2 billion Nairobi-Mombasa rail line with the help of China. This was the largest infrastructure project since independence and is only the first of a network that will make Kenya the heartbeat of East Africa.
The Kenyan government is clearly onto something. It has created symbiotic relationships with the East and the results are rising out of the ground to tower above the continent. There is much to be gained when African countries are receptive to global partnerships which produce results. The Pinnacle will not just be the crest of architectural glory but global partnership.