The complex expected to be completed in three years’ time (that is July 2011) will be modelled along Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International Conference centre will house Africa’s first seven star hotel complete with 220 VIP suites 20 of which will be presidential suites in internationally recognised and certified standards.
If approved, work on the site could begin as early as next year once the ongoing shs 1.2 billion rehabilitation programme on KICC is completed. The current phase of the rehabilitation is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Philip Kisia, KICC Managing Director, revealed that the corporation had already submitted the plans to the Ministry of tourism, treasury and office of the president for approval.
“It will be a complex,” Kisia said, “complete with several shopping malls, bars and restaurants, cinema halls, duty free shopping complexes, hotels, car rentals, health clubs, curio shops, salons and barber shops, churches, mosques and other prayer centres…a complex providing anything and everything anybody can dream of in terms of needs.”
It is expected that once complete, the complex will transform KICC into a city within a city in the same lines as the Sandton Conference Centre in South Africa or Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.
Kisia says: “The reason why the government and KICC board of directors are committed to this project is because modern conferencing is expanding very rapidly going beyond the capacities of the conferencing facilities which were constructed even in the 1980s through the 1990s because they are very limiting in the fast emerging scenario, yet it is extremely lucrative.”
The conference centre was built in late 1960’s but it opened its doors as a meeting facility in 1970s after it was officially opened in September 1973 by the late President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.
It is estimated that when the convention centre is completed, it will increase the revenue generated by the center as a state corporation from shs 250 million to shs 2.3 billion annually. In the last two years, KICC has increased its turnover by 250 percent.
“The revenue generated to the national economy by the conference center annually is expected to be upwards of Shs 25 billion while employing more than 500 people on a permanent basis. Not to mention the huge number of business opportunities expected to be generated,” said Kisia.
According to the plans drawn by the KICC board, the convention centre is expected to have underground tunnels connecting its complex which will also house some shops to enable those strolling around the centre to do their shopping.
Parking facilities will also be underground, while the helipad on top of the KICC main twenty-eight floor structure is being revived to begin handling helicopter landings. Helicopters will be used to provide shuttle services for visitors from the airports to the convention center and other destinations.
The plans document possibilities of constructing a cable car network that will ferry passengers from the convention center to various parts of the city above the Nairobi skyline at a fee.
The convention center according to the plans, will occupy the area from Garden Square restaurant, all the way to Sheria House, Public Service Commission (PSC) headquarters and the Comesa grounds across parliament road part of which is currently being used as a public pay car park and open grounds for exhibitions and other activities.
The KICC boss says the ambitious plans for the convention are aimed at positioning Kenya to compete effectively in international conference tourism that has traditionally been a preserve for European and American countries.
In the recent years, Asian countries have emerged as competitors in preferred destination for conference tourism.
“Once the convention centre is complete,” Kisia said, “our only competitors will be South Africa and Egypt, but we are determined to dominate this market in the entire East African region, and the Comesa trading block because we have the capacity and the widest range of attractions to offer than any of our competitors”