20,000 jobless Kenyans are set to benefit from a multi-billion shillings project courtesy of Kenyans in the diaspora.
Kenyans in the diaspora have joined hands together to
construct a diaspora university town in Taita Taveta County.
Taita Taveta County Assembly has already approved the Sh100
billion diaspora university town development plan, which borrows from
university towns in the US and targets to create 500 new SMEs and 20,000 jobs
in five years.
“The university town model is not new. Amherst Town in
Massachusetts that President Uhuru Kenyatta studied at and where one of our
founders, Prof Philliph Mutisya of North Carolina Central University went to,
is a university town,” says Mr Dan Kamau who heads the site development office
The group has already identified a 1,500-acre land out of the
3,000 acres needed for the establishment of the university.
The proposed university is expected to not only provide
education and conduct research but to transform the lives of thousands by
creating jobs and promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“The approved plan is for a university that can accommodate
30,000 students and 90,000 residents on 3,000 acres of land,” said Mr. Kamau.
SMEs are to have a piece of the immense project by being
awarded tenders to supply materials.
Besides the contracts to supply raw materials and render an
assortment of services, entrepreneurs will also benefit immensely from transfer
of skills and experiences as they undertake the project.
“The move by the diaspora to create jobs is good for the
young people. My community is happy to be part of the project.” Said Ndara B
community chairman Benjamin Mwandaa, whose community is to benefit from the job
According to the planners, six categories of jobs are
expected to be created; university jobs, town, design-build, medical hospital,
tourism and SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) jobs as a result of the development.
About 80 percent of the locals aged between 18 years and 35
years have expressed interest for the jobs, according to the community chairman.
Mr Kamau explains that the university model is based on
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a private research university in
Massachusetts, project-based learning approach which brings together SMEs, education
investors as well as property developers, town planners and designers, among
“We call it university town because the ratio of students to
residents will be one student to three residents,” Mr Kamau said.
WPI Professors Arthur Gerstenfeld (Retired) and the late Prof
Raphael Njoroge mooted the idea for the university development and the second
alternative idea was a housing development using diaspora capital started by
Kenyans in diaspora.
“The two ideas would become development plans and later merge
through to become a university town development plan,” Mr Kamau said.
Thereafter the system would become the Kenya University
Project (KUP) system once adjusted to incorporate the Constitution.”
Taita Taveta County is enthusiastic about the project and
hopes it will go a long way in changing the economic fortunes of its population
through the expansion of employment opportunities and affording small firms a
golden chance to participate in the project.