With the old tiled roofing houses and ample space that is characteristic of any low-density suburb, the area along Old Moshi Road (recently renamed Julius Nyerere Road) in Arusha remained what it was designed for from the colonial times and in the post-independence era: a residential area for senior government officials and well-to-do business people.
This is not entirely the case now. In a matter of a few years, it has been transformed into a booming investment zone for the city with classic eating joints, hotels, shops for the special clientele, private medical treatment facilities, offices and residential apartments.
The sudden change of status cannot be fully realised without recalling the recent official inauguration of two major investment buildings owned by the PPF Pensions Fund and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in the now busy street east of the city.
The glittering, multi-billion shilling towers offer increased hope to potential investors to Arusha after the town suffered from 2013/2014 grenade and acid attacks linked to terrorism and the downturn in tourism sector following the outbreak of Ebola in 2014 and intensified terror attacks in neighbouring Kenya from 2013.
The 13-storey Mafao House and 11-floor PPF Plaza Arusha were officially inaugurated by President John Pombe Magufuli on May 9, this year.
Although the occupation rate of the finished buildings was still low -28 per cent for the PPF building and 45 per cent for NSSF tower – at the time of their official opening, the two buildings have radically changed the skyline of the leafy suburb.
Business analysts say the two projects were enough indication that Arusha – considered the country’s safari capital – was increasingly becoming a leading investment destination in mega real estate projects than sole dependency on the tourism and service sector.
The imposing Mafao House, which is much closer to the Clock Tower Roundabout in the heart of the city was constructed at the cost of Sh29 billion, according to Ms Eunice Chiume, a senior official of the organisation. It was completed in early 2013.
Both buildings, constructed by China Railways Jianching Engineering Company, are designed for offices and banking halls.
Mr Ramadhani Khijjah, the chair of PPF Pensions Fund Board of Trustees, said the pension house would earn about Sh2.2 billion a year through rents while NSSF estimates it would be generating an annual income of Sh3 billion. The estimated revenue does not include value-added tax.
Among the first tenants of the newly-completed PPF Plaza in Arusha will be the First National Bank and the TIB Development Bank. According to him, discussions are underway with other organizations and companies which have shown willingness to rent in the building.
PPF Plaza Arusha is the third such investments in Arusha. Two others are residential flats at Kaloleni and Olorien constructed in the late 1990s and the East African Hotel building, also along Julius Nyerere road.
For NSSF this was the second major investment in high rise commercial building in Arusha. The eleven-storey NSSF Kaloleni was also completed though its official inauguration has been shelved to a later date.
“This is essentially an investment building targeting the corporate bodies and business companies, offering a better working environment than elsewhere in town”, said NSSF director general Godius Kahyarara during the launching ceremony of Mafao House with 13,742 square metres of renting space.
More modern structures are being put up in Arusha to cope with the demand. Later this year, will see the completion of the 15-storey Ngorongoro House, an investment building being put up by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority at a cost of Sh42 billion.
Credit: All Africa