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UK media claims Garden City funded by aid money

The Garden City Mall that is set to open Thursday in Nairobi has been reported to have been funded using aid money.

A report by The Guardian stated that the $25 million put into the project by CDC, the UK’s Development Finance Institution (DFI) wholly owned by the UK Government was aid money.

“CDC, formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation, says these investments will create thousands of jobs for poor people in construction and services. But leading British NGOs questioned how supporting upmarket property could be an acceptable use of UK aid money,” reads the report.

Garden City shopping mall along Thika Superhighway. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU
Garden City shopping mall along Thika Superhighway. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU

The Garden City Mall whose construction started in July last year is being built by a private equity firm Actis in partnership with CDC Group and IFC.

IFC is a member of World Bank Group and has invested $ 7million in the project.

As the CDC and IFC were announcing the investment in the project in January, CDC Regional Director Dolika Banda said the project will provide jobs hence the investment by the organization as a show of commitment to the country’s development.

Oumar Seydi, IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa said the two organizations are supporting the project as it is promoting entrepreneurship by enabling artisans to serve local consumers without bearing the significant overhead associated with permanent retail space.

The mall has so far managed to employ construction workers and the retail outlets in it will be expected to further employ other Kenyans.

The question of the mall offering a cheaper alternative of the retail space is debatable as the letting price is very high compared to other properties of mixed use.


According to Knight Frank properties website the price per square metre at the mall is 48.45dollars (Sh 4,759) compared to a property like The Oval in Westlands whose price is Sh120-270 per square foot (not metre as earlier indicated).

CDC argues that by supporting the project, jobs will be created in the construction sector despite the services offered appearing to be targeting the rich judging from the description of the villas at the village.

A CDC spokesman told The Guardian that it had worked closely with development academics and economists to identify sectors with the highest job creation potential.

“Construction was identified as a priority sector that creates large numbers of low and semi-skilled jobs that are typically open to the poorest people in developing countries,” said the spokesman.