A guide to serviced offices and office space for rent in Nairobi as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in Nairobi.
History & Geography
Known as the ‘Green City in the Sun’ Kenya’s capital is a sprawling, chaotic and ever-growing city with an energy and beauty all its own. Nairobi lies next to the eastern edge of the Rift Valley and just east of the Ngong Hills in south west Kenya. It is within sight of both Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya and within spitting distance of the Nairobi River, which has tributaries branching out all over Nairobi County. What is now the 12th largest city in Africa started life as a rail depot on the railway from Mombasa to Uganda. The site was chosen due to its position between Mombasa and Kampala, its network of rivers which could supply fresh water, and its slight elevation, resulting in a cooler more habitable climate. By 1907 Nairobi had grown to become the capital of British East Africa, however after an outbreak of plague in the early 20th century the town was completely destroyed and rebuilt. Nevertheless Nairobi continued to grow and became an important administration centre. The city also attracted visitors intent on big game hunting, for which several large hotels were built. Yet as the city continued to expand the local Masaai and Kikuyu tribes grew concerned as they witnessed their lands to south being gobbled up by the city’s expansion. Post WWII these grievances resulted in the Mau Mau rebellion and an independence movement led by Jomo Kenyatta. In 1963 Kenya achieved independence and Kenyatta was installed as the first prime minister and Nairobi was named the capital of the new republic. Post independence the city grew more rapidly, which put pressure on its infrastructure, and while many of these problems have gotten better, Nairobi still continues to struggle with overcrowding, crime and disease. These problems are particularly prevalent in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa.
Nairobi is the financial and economic hub of Kenya and home to the regional headquarters of a myriad of international companies. Among the companies who have recently moved their African headquarters to the city are General Electric, Young and Rubicam, Google, Coca-Cola and Cisco Systems. The city is also home to the Nairobi Stock Exchange, the fourth largest of its kind in Africa, as well as the headquarters of all the nation’s banks. Among the industries prominent in Nairobi are clothing, textiles, building materials, processed foods, beverages and tobacco. Goodyear, General Motors and Toyota all have factories based in and around the city. Of late Nairobi has also become a major transportation hub due to its fairly advanced transport infrastructure. Despite not being a major tourist destination Nairobi does have a growing tourist industry and several compelling attractions.
Nairobi’s main tourist magnet is the Nairobi National Park, the only park of its nature to be bordered by a major city. Established in 1946 the park was Kenya’s first, and remains the country’s showpiece. Only a fence separates the bustling metropolis and the lush parkland, which is inhabited by lions, giraffe, leopards, zebras, cheetahs, rhinoceros, waterbuck and more. The Nairobi Safari Walk has gained massively in popularity recently and is a must for visitors. Nicknamed the Safari Capital of the World the city is a major jumping off point for wildlife adventures and has multiple hotels which specifically cater to the industry. Additionally the Nairobi National Museum is also popular and contains the full skeleton of a Homo Erectus. The city itself is diverse and thriving, and contains a varied and multicultural cross section of people and cultures.
Nairobi is fairly well served by its transport infrastructure and is in fact one of the best cities in the region in this respect. The city is served by Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the largest in central and east Africa, which handles approximately 5 million visitors per year. The airport runs flights to Europe and Asia and is currently being expanded to handle flights from the US and Canada as well. Public transportation in the city itself is provided by buses, trains, taxis and Matatus, which are privately-owned minibuses and the most popular form of transport in the city. However visitors are advised not to use them as they are notorious for their poor safety records and overcrowding. Efforts are being made to phase out the Matatus and replace them with Smart Buses, featuring a transport card that can be swiped for every journey. Nairobi Railway Station is the largest station in the city and trains run regularly to Mombasa and Kampala.
Nairobi has a large supply of office space, though its office market has struggled of late with many companies hesitating to sign off on leases and renewals because of the negative economic climate. However recently this has improved and the sector is gradually bouncing back. The oversupply means that the it remains a renters market. Lately offices outside of the CBD have been gaining in popularity due to the fact that they do not come with the problems of congestion and lack of parking which plague central Nairobi. The outer areas such as Westlands, Upper Hill, Riverside, Karen and Gigiri have also benefitted from a significant amount of development recently. Notable among the new developments are 14 Riverside, Delta Corner and the KMA Centre. Also notable is the newly built Nairobi Business Park, Phase I of which was completed in 2003 and consists of 7,000 square metres of Grade A office space. Eventually the Business Park is to feature 30,000 square meters of office space. Several companies including Siemens and Nokia have already let space in the park.