And the winner is Kampala city! It is a splendid time to live in Uganda’s capital. January, 2024 was such a time for the economy and particularly the tourism sector.
The visitors that jetted into the revamped Entebbe international airport went back with great memories of Uganda – especially the lushly green country they experienced, characteristic of the enigmatic pearl of Africa. Wow – we heard the whispers – this is such a beautiful country – the visitors said.
We thank God, President Museveni and the people of Uganda for hosting successfully the Non-Aligned Movement and G77+China meetings, not forgetting the parliament speakers meet which kicked off the series of meetings at the newly- completed Speke Resort Convention Center in Munyonyo.
It was a busy month. The vibe in the city was high. For the guests that visited, among other places, the Uganda Wildlife Education Center in Entebbe with First Lady Janet as well as the Kabaka’s palace, among other places, got great memories of God’s country – none like any other on the planet.
On top of the physical beauty, Uganda offered what it is always been known for – warm friendships, great weather, and of course, sumptuous meals. That is not to forget the Luganda saying – Ku mbaga tekubula musiwufu. Our brothers who subscribe to the opposition were unhappy with NRM’s party at the green lawn; so, they attempted to ruin the party, albeit unsuccessfully.
Their banana-tree-planting exercise was met with disdain and contempt both locally and internationally. A smart BBC Africa journalist questioned if it was wise for Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the self-styled opposition leader, to stage disruptive protests when so many guests were moving across the city to access their event venues.
He responded like a spoiled child; “We don’t have a law in Uganda that requires one to seek clearances before staging demos!” The Kenyan-born anchor certainly knew about the famous Public Order Management Act (POMA) but the former MP and opposition leader didn’t!
So, with visitors in town, the biggest gathering of VIP guests in Kampala since the outbreak of Covid-19, it called for togetherness to show the best of Uganda. For many visitors, they might never come to the country but will talk about it for many years to come. Yet for some – they were here for the first time.
It meant so much for the hoteliers and their peers in the hospitality industry to have such precious jewels in the country. Only Bobi Wine and his ilk thought otherwise!
For the lazy to think, a simple task Google search such as; “why do nations compete to host international events?” would offer numerous answers such as these I just found: International events offer a wide range of benefits to both the host country and the participating nations.
These events can have a positive impact on various aspects of society, including social, economic, cultural and diplomatic dimensions. These events provide a platform for national unity and city pride. Hosting international events such as the Non-Aligned Movement and G77+China meetings is the reason for a significant amount of economic development in countries.
So, host cities enjoy an increased global profile, growth in local employment, immediate and short-term economic benefits and increased long-term investment. By the time NAM and G77+China events were over, Uganda added magnificent meeting space for future meetings at the Speke Resort Convention Center Munyonyo.
Meanwhile, the roads in the neighbourhood of Munyonyo, Ggaba, Kajjansi, etc have been all done. Business has been good for hoteliers, transporters, entertainers, foodies, arts and crafts to name it. Hundreds of jobs in all these sectors had their pockets happier.
Not forgetting the diplomatic deals signed off at presidential, ministerial, departmental and parastatal levels. Indeed, it takes “special” brains to think NAM and G77+China were not godsent for Uganda, and that the country didn’t get more than value for the money invested in such huge events, which covered the entire calendar month of January 2024.
The writer is a journalist and serves as deputy RDC for Mukono district