Once a vibrant, bustling industrial hub, Nakuru town has, in the past two decades, witnessed a growing trend of grand exits of industrial investors.
But since the onset of devolution, the town has slowly risen again with improved infrastructure and more private investments and now aspires to restore its lost glory of being an industrial town.
The county now targets key investments to turn around its fortunes and bolster its revenue base as it nears attaining a city status.
The county is banking on its first international investors’ conference that will be held between November 29 and December 1 to revive and establish new industries in both Nakuru and Naivasha towns which have since grown in leaps and bounds.
The conference, according to Governor Lee Kinyanjui, will involve international and local investors and players from across all sectors as the county showcases the investment opportunities it has to offer.
The key projects to be highlighted in the conference are the Oserian Industrial Park, Kengen Textile City Park, Lord Egerton Agri-City, Kabarak University Smart City and B2B meetings with local companies.
Other opportunities will include direct use of steam from Menengai and Olkaria geothermal plants.
The county has been working to attract investors and one industry which appears to have heeded this call is the hospitality sector.
Modern new hotels and resorts have been constructed in the past few years.
Road infrastructure has also improved with the building of two interchanges along the Nairobi-Nakuru-Eldoret highway which are set to spruce up the face of Nakuru town.
The interchanges at Nyahururu and Njoro turnoffs are complete and are set to be launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta early 2019.
The standard gauge railway line and the Naivasha Industrial Park are other key infrastructures expected to boost trade in the county.
“Nakuru is also looking forward to the Naivasha Industrial Park which will create thousands of employment opportunities as well as boost industrial development,” said Governor Kinyanjui in an interview with the Nation.
Nakuru, regarded as a key food basket in the Rift Valley, seeks to lure investors to its vibrant agricultural sector to add value to its products and gain direct sales of its farm produce to foreign markets including East African countries.
For instance, the county is keen on the revival of pyrethrum farming, a known lucrative sub-sector.
Nakuru is also one of the leading producers of potatoes, milk and vegetables among other crops.
According to Governor Kinyanjui, the county also seeks tap into its geothermal fields to generate more revenue.
Nakuru hosts Africa’s largest geothermal power plants in Olkaria and Menengai.
It also targets new investments in manufacturing and high-end residential developments.
Among key industries that closed shop in Nakuru include Eliotts Bakeries which wound up in 1992 and Eveready, which left in 2014 after the management said it could not compete against cheap dry cell batteries imported from China that had flooded the market.
Flamingo Bottlers and Sam-Con Limited, a steel-body fabricating company that also sold Isuzu trucks moved their operations to Nairobi.
Others include Kenya’s only pre-independence tomato paste maker – Kabazi Canners – which provided market for Subukia farmers. It quietly went under years ago.
Valley Bakeries Ltd, a leading bakery in the town, PAC Industries, Nakuru Oil Mills and Rift Valley Refrigerators followed suit.