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Implementing the Access to Information Act in the development control process - Architectural Association of Kenya (ArchAK)

ArchAK has been engaging with counties on projects relating to development control such as a project to engage with three counties to get their buy-in on the automation of the development control process in those counties; and, ArchAK was contracted by the World Bank to collect data for the Doing Business – Comparing Business Regulation report, specifically on ‘Dealing with Construction Permits’. (Doing Business 2018- Kenya).

The Construction industry in Kenya contributes approximately 7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and is a major provider of employment. The industry has experienced significant growth largely driven by increased spending infrastructure driven by both government and private sector (both local and foreign), and increased spending on county infrastructure as a result of devolution. However, undertaking a construction project in Kenya is often marred with unclear government approval processes which create a barrier for investors, thus delaying and sometimes discouraging investment.

Construction in Kenya requires the acquisition of a construction permit and periodic inspections through-out the life of the project until an occupancy certificate is issued. This process is undertaken by the County government and may also include getting consent from other bodies such as the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), National Construction Authority (NCA), and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) depending on the type of development.

ArchAK has come to learn through their engagement with counties how complicated it is to not only obtain an occupancy certificate but also how difficult it is to obtain information on the development control process. ArchAK has identified the following key issues that their members experience in the construction industry and specifically in obtaining occupancy certificates:

These issues make it difficult for investors (both domestic and foreign) across the country to obtain construction permits as the lack of clarity, consistency and transparency on the development control process creates room for corrupt dealings. ArchAK argues that having clearly documented processes available and accessible to the public would not only improve the BEE for developers, it would also reduce the opportunities for corruption in the development control process.

ArchAK posits that development control processes and costs should be public knowledge. In some counties, there has been a move to post information on county websites. However, there is no consistency in what information is posted online and therefore does not improve the ease of access to information in these counties.

To address this situation conclusively, ArchAK seeks to support county governments to implement the Access to Information (AI) Act, (2016) in the sector so that all information on development control held by counties and other relevant MDAs is available for public consumption. The AI Act provides for access to information by citizens to ensure accountability, transparency and public participation. ArchAK’s goal is to develop and host a development control information portal where all development control information is posted online to ease access to this information by investors.

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