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by Fredrick Ngugi, at 10:16 pm, April 07, 2016, Money Moves

Nairobi Leads Regional Giants in Developing Mega Shopping Malls

Garden City Mall, one of the largest shopping malls in Nairobi, Kenya.

Mega shopping malls appear to be the new crowning glory of Nairobi and other major capital cities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over the last decade, Nairobi has experienced a major boom in the construction of mega shopping malls, each presenting a more sophisticated style than the ones before.

According to a recent report by Knight Frank, a leading property agent in the UK, Nairobi ranks top among five capital cities in sub-Saharan Africa with the largest shopping mall development pipelines. Other major cities included in the survey are Windhoek, Gaborone, Lagos, Dar es Salaam, Luanda and Maputo.

The report, which was published in February 2016, ranks the Kenyan capital city Nairobi as the largest shopping center market in the sub-Saharan region, excluding South Africa. According to Knight Frank, Nairobi has about 400,000 square meters of existing shopping mall space, with the newly-opened Garden City Mall (in Nairobi) being the largest and most modern shopping mall in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report places Windhoek and Gaborone as the second and third largest shopping markets adding that the two rather small cities have more shopping center space than much larger capital cities such as Kinshasa and Lagos.

New Shopping Trend in Nairobi

Although Nairobi has had shopping malls since the early 80s, there appears to be a renewed appetite for larger malls with more sophisticated architectural designs. Also, new projects are presenting new trends such as mixed-use development as opposed to the traditional pure-retail design.

Modern shopping malls in Nairobi merge different key facilities such as retail shops, health amenities, offices and entertainment joints.

Knight Frank’s Retail Portfolio Manager in Kenya Mr. Ashmi Shah was quoted in the report saying: Developers of Nairobi’s modern malls are building new city hubs where people can live, work, shop and play. All on the same site, in locations near key transport links.

Currently, there are over 24 shopping malls in Nairobi and more are still coming up.

While the Kenyan retail market is currently dominated by local players, the report indicates a growing interest among key international retail groups who enter the Kenyan market either through partnerships with locals or franchise arrangements.

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