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Accepted Paper:

The politics of development in Nairobi City County  
Michuki George (University of Nairobi) Karuti Kanyinga (Institute for Development Studies (IDS))

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from a historical perspective, the paper sheds light on the nature of Kenya's political settlement and how this has impacted the political economy of Nairobi City.

Paper long abstract:

Over the years, Kenya's political settlement has been marked by ethnopolitics; a predominance of crony capitalism; elite interests, pacts, and bargains as well as strong control over the instruments of state patronage. This character of the Kenyan state has impacted heavily on the provision of public goods. It is in this context that this paper investigates the nature of Kenya’s political settlement and its implications on the political economy of Nairobi city. As evidence shows, since the 1980s, the national government has experimented with diverse governance models aimed at improving the delivery of services in the city. These models range from the Nairobi City Council, Nairobi City Commission, the Constitutionally sanctioned County Government of Nairobi, and a notable reversal through the Nairobi Metropolitan Services. In spite of these attempts, the delivery of critical public goods in the city remains poor, while the city politics remains highly enmeshed with the national-level politics. Efforts to build a socially inclusive city remain a mirage. To the political elite, Nairobi City remains a valuable ornament that should never escape their control, but their vision of the city remains blurred. Besides unresponsive state apparatus, the governance of Nairobi City is complicated by a populace that does not treat the city as their home. This limits opportunities to bring into account duty bearers in the city in addressing the service provision challenges. However, the ideals espoused in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 offer a potential pathway for Nairobi's renewal and regeneration.

Panel P11a
The political economy of urban reform in Africa: from analysis to action
  Session 1 Wednesday 6 July, 2022, -