2011/2012 Yearbook Devolution

47. Nairobi

Nairobi is Kenya’s capital and largest city. Popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun” it borders Kiambu to the north, Machakos to the south and south east and Kajiado counties to the south and south west.




3.1 million


At 1,795 metres above sea level, Nairobi enjoys a moderate climate. Temperatures range between 10 degrees C and 24 degrees celsius.There are two rainy seasons, but rainfall can be moderate.


Nairobi is home to the Nairobi Securities Exchange, one of Africa’s largest. The exchange is Africa’s fourth largest (in terms of trading volumes) and fifth (in terms of market capitalisation as a percentage of GDP) Nairobi is the regional headquarters of several international companies and organisations. They include General Electric, Young & Rubicam, Google, Coca Cola, Airtel and Cisco Systems. Several of Africa’s largest companies are headquartered in Nairobi.

KenGen, which is the largest African stock outside South Africa, is based in the city. Kenya Airways, Africa’s fourth largest airline, uses Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as a hub. Nairobi is home to thousands of Kenyan businesses and major international organisations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the main coordinating and headquarters for the UN in Africa and Middle East, the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON),


Nairobi is not a prime tourist destination, but it does have several tourist attractions. The most famous is the Nairobi National Park. The park is unique in being the only game-reserve of this nature in the world to border a capital city, or any major city. The Nairobi Safari Walk is a major attraction to the Nairobi National Park as it offers a rare on- foot experience of wild animals. Nairobi is home to several museums, sites, and monuments. The Nairobi National Museum is the largest in the city. It houses a large collection of artifacts portraying Kenya’s rich heritage through history, nature, culture, and contemporary art. Other prominent museums include the Nairobi Gallery, Railway Museum and Karen Blixen in Karen. Uhuru Gardens, a national monument and the largest memorial park in Kenya, is also the place where the first Kenyan flag was raised at independence. It is on Langata road near the Wilson Airport, the busiest in the region.


Constituencies:  Westlands, Parklands, Dagoretti, Karen/Langata, Kibra, Roysambu, Kasarani, Ruaraka, Kariobangi, Kayole, Embakasi, Mihango, Nairobi-West, Makadara, Kamukunji, Starehe and Mathare.

Education Nairobi has the highest concentration of primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities. Being a major diplomatic city, majority of schools follow either the Kenyan curriculum, the British curriculum or other foreign systems of education. There is also the International School of Kenya which follows the North American curriculum and the German School. There are many universities in Nairobi, including the University of Nairobi, the largest and oldest in Kenya. Others are Kenyatta University, Jomo Kenyatta University, Strathmore University, United States International University, Daystar, Aga Khan, Catholic University of East Africa and Africa Nazarene.

The city is also home to tens of hundreds of tertiary colleges, technical institutions and youth polytechnics. It also hosts numerous research institutes.


Nairobi has the leading public and private hospitals including Kenyatta National, the biggest referral institution in the region. Others include Nairobi, Aga Khan, Karen, St Marys, St James and Mater hospitals. It is the regional centre for medical tourism.


Devolution can lead to more rapid and greater balanced economic and social development. The centralised system, with the concentration of all government institutions and decision making in the Capital City, led to the concentration of economic activities in the capital city area. It led, more specifically, to uneven development and growing dis- parities of economic opportunities.

This resulted in the impoverishment of many regions and communities—and the drift towards urban areas. With county governments spread throughout the country, there would be greater incentives and opportunities for economic and social development, as these governments take their responsibility for the welfare and development of their counties.

Opponents of devolution also argue that it would greatly increase the costs of government. In a country where the majority of the people live below the poverty level, this is an important consideration.

However, in close to 50 years since independence, Kenya’s centralisation had led to the concentration of economic activity in major towns and cities. This new school of thought will therefore drive away the production of the proportion of the GDP away from the big towns, and a disproportionate expenditure and the consumption of goods and services. There has been little re-distribution to the poorer parts of the country such as the North East Province.