Diaspora cash fuelling housing boom, say sector players

Money sent by Kenyans in the Diaspora is one of the major contributors to the growth of the building industry. Mabati Rolling Mills (MRM) says many Kenyans living abroad prefer investing in residential and other property, which gives good returns on investment.

Speaking in Nairobi during the launch of Mabati-Cornell Prize, a Kiswahili Literature award scheme, MRM’s Head of Business Santosh Shridharan attributed growth in the building industry to the growth of a middle class with good disposable income and the Government’s increased spending in infrastructure development. “Although the Government’s overall spending in 2014 was limited, quite some spending went into infrastructure development, particularly roads,” said Shridharan.

Mr Shridharan observed that Kenya’s building regulations ought to be updated to take care of the rapid changes in the sector. “Building materials whose quality is uncertain still find their way into the market,” he noted.

Joint venture

Mr Shridharan observed that though 2014 was a difficult year for the company, it will continue innovating materials for both the high-end and low-end market to enable more Kenyans to buy quality roofing materials. The Mabati-Cornell Prize, a joint venture with Cornell University, UK, will see Swahili enthusiasts from the region get involved in literary competitions like essay writing, poetry and stories.

“We understand the need for such an initiative and we are keen to promote local talent. We will ensure this programme is mutually beneficial to all participants even as we try to build the Swahili brand,” said Shridharan.

The programme will see Sh1.35 million shared among three categories.

The winner will clinch Sh450,000, the runner-up Sh270,000 and third-placed writer Sh180,000.The last date for submission of manuscripts is expected to be on March 31, 2015.

MRM Head of Corporate Affairs Salim Bakari said the partnership with Cornell University offers a viable prospect moving forward, adding that the  best manuscript will be published in Kiswahili by East African Educational Publishers while the best poetry will be published by the Africa Poetry Book Fund.

Scholar and Author Dr Hamisi Babusa called on all relevant stakeholders to play their role in advancing the Swahili language. The Kenyatta University lecturer expressed concern with the casual manner in which the national language was being handled.

“I want to thank MRM because of this project but I am concerned that not enough is being done to strengthen the language in schools and at the grassroots” said the Kamusi Teule Author.


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