, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – A new policy research working paper by the World Bank indicates that economic opportunities in Nairobi can double within an hour when commuters travel by foot or use public transport.
According to the analysis presented in the policy paper, modifications to the layout of the city have the potential of increasing the share of overall opportunities accessible to Nairobi residents within a given time-frame.
Residents can increase economic opportunities from 11 to 21 percent if they travel by foot and from 20 to 42 percent when commuters use public transport.
The analysis is hinged on the importance of reducing the economic distance between people and opportunities as a key factor to make a city thrive since it enables matchmaking among people, firms and job opportunities.
“On average, car users within Nairobi can access respectively 31 percent, 58 percent and 77 percent of total opportunities within a 30, 45 and 60 minutes timeframe in congested conditions,” read part of the research entitled “Matchmaking in Nairobi: The Role of Land Use.”
“For matatu users the situation is drastically different as on average they can only access 4%, 10% and 20% within a 30, 45 and 60 minutes timeframe.”
The analysis underscores the importance of reducing the economic distance between people and opportunities as a key factor to make the city thrive since it enables matchmaking among people, firms and job opportunities.
“The spatial layout of Nairobi reflects a complex self organization process whereby households seek to locate within reasonable distances of jobs and public amenities, maximizing accessibility within the constrained environment of sub-optimal transport investments, and governance challenges related to land-use planning and development control and enforcement,” read part of the policy paper.
The paper which examines employment accessibility in Nairobi however indicates that maximizing the number of households that have access to a minimum share of jobs through more even jobs-housing balance could come at the expense of average accessibility, necessitating a trade-off between inclusive and efficient labour markets.
According to results of simulations on population density and the number of opportunities available in the city, “Nairobi in its current spatial layout performs better than any of the 10,000 counterfactual scenarios (spatial layouts) in providing access to opportunities to its residents.”
“From the aggregate accessibility for the current spatial layout of Nairobi – around 77% of all formal economic opportunities can be reached within an hour on average when all transport modes are available,” suggested the 33-page document adding that most counterfactual scenarios achieve significantly lower accessibility mostly between 45 per cent to 55 per cent.
The paper however notes that the current spatial arrangement of the city is, “a reasonable outcome in terms of overall access to total opportunities given the constraints on capital investments in transport infrastructure and residential structures.”
Results of the research also indicate that alternative land use patterns within Nairobi can increase overall accessibility to opportunities by users of personal cars by 15 per cent (from 77 per cent to 92.5 per cent) while at the same time doubling the share of formal economic opportunities accessible to PSV users within an hour from 20 per cent to 42 per cent.
Accessibility to such opportunities to those travelling by foot can also improve from 11 per cent to 21 per cent.
The paper describes Nairobi’s spatial arrangement performance as tolerable saying it offers a chance for people to connect to opportunities although there is still, “considerable room to increase accessibility through better land use coordination.”