Kenya’s Westgate Mall Scheduled To Reopen July 1

Kenya’s Westgate Mall Scheduled To Reopen July 1

From TheGlobe&Mail. Story by Geoffrey York.

Kenya’s retail sector is thriving, despite Westgate and other attacks, showing the resilience that Kenya will need if it hopes to remain among Africa’s economic powerhouses.

The Garden City mall, billing itself as the largest in East Africa with 33,000 square meters of shopping, opened its doors in late May and already has shoppers flocking through its doors, even though half of its shops aren’t open yet.

Later this year, Garden City will lose its regional leadership to an even bigger mall, Two Rivers, with 62,000 square meters of shops in an affluent district of Nairobi. The French hypermarket chain Carrefour is planning to open two outlets in Nairobi.

And on July 1, the Westgate Mall is scheduled to reopen less than two years after the attack by al-Shabab gunmen that killed 67 people.

While most of its shops won’t be ready for business by then, Westgate’s reopening will be a rebirth for the trend setter of Kenya’s retail sector. Construction noise is audible behind a tall metal fence at Westgate these days as workers apply the final touches.

“Westgate will attract people – Kenyans have very short memories,” says Aly-Khan Satchu, a Nairobi investment adviser. “There’s an excitement around the retail sector. I can’t tell you the number of big retail brands that have contacted me and asked how they can enter. It’s sky high.”

In another sign of Kenya’s economic vitality, U.S. President Barack Obama is due to visit Nairobi next month to attend an entrepreneurship summit. Kenya’s economic potential is too big for the Americans and other foreign investors to ignore.

In a report this month, the World Bank forecast 6 percent growth for Kenya this year, followed by 6.6 percent next year.

Read more at TheGlobe&Mail.