by Bedah Mengo
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- While moving out
of his parent’s home three weeks ago into his own flat, Nairobi
resident Kevin Onyango had a perfect plan.
savings, he paid rent, bought utensils, curtains and a bed to
enable him to begin a new life.
He had also planned to buy a five-seater sofa set for his
one- bedroom house. But almost a month since he moved out,
Onyango has not achieved this dream because of the high cost of
"My budget was 455 U.S. dollars.
"I have walked in several furniture shops in Nairobi but
I cannot get a nice seat worth that much," recounted Onyango
The accountant, who is three months into his new job, is
almost losing hope of ever buying furniture.
He has gone to furniture shops in Gikomba, Mutindwa and
Embakasi where he lives, but he cannot get nice seats fitting
"In all the workshops I have visited, they are selling
the seats at between 568 dollars and 795 dollars.
"This is way above my budget. I cannot afford the cost
because I have other things to take care of."
The 27-year-old is among the Nairobi residents who have been
hit hard by high price of furniture.
The cost of the products has doubled in the last two years
despite rise in competition.
The furniture include beds, sofa sets, TV stands, cabinets,
tables and wall units.
A standard 6 by 4 feet bed made of softwood is now going for
at least 80 dollars, up from about half the price two years ago.
A double-decker bed, on the other hand, is being sold from
114 dollar to 227 dollars in many middle income estates.
Anyone wishing to buy a table and four stools must part with
114 dollars to 341 dollars. For TV stands, one pays from between
96 dollars and 205 dollars.
Prices of the furniture triples in established shops in
the city, where a bed goes for up to 1,136 dollars.
The cost has shot up despite the explosion of furniture
shops in every suburb across the city.
Tens of furniture shops have sprung up in many city
estates, as property developers construct dozens of houses,
and many people move into them.
"The cost of furniture has gone up because of high price
of raw materials, in particular timber.
Timber has become hard to come by, because the government
banned logging in forests.
A sizeable chunk of timber we use here is imported," said
David Ekonye, who runs Classic Furniture Makers workshop in
Umoja on the east of Nairobi.
Ekonye said they buy a foot of timber from merchants at
0.50 dollars, up from 0.35 two years ago.
Latest statistics from Forest Department in the Ministry of
Environment and Natural Resources show that Kenya spends up to
40 million dollars annually on timber imports, mainly from
Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo to meet rising demand
that stands at more than 40 million cubic meters annually.
Initially, people in search of bargains preferred to visit
workshops and fit furniture than buy from showrooms.
However, there is now little difference between fitting
the furniture in workshops and buying from showrooms.
"I sell five-seater couch made of pine at 681 dollars. We
increased prices to compete with showroom owners, some who
were buying from us and selling at higher prices raking in
huge profits at our expenses," says Ekonye.
Ekonye does not see the cost of furniture coming down any
time soon in the East African nation as timber prices continue