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Gen Muhoozi calls for greater cooperation between Uganda and Rwandan tourism sectors

by Editorial Team
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By Eddie Ssejjoba                

Senior Presidential Advisor for Special Operations at office of the President, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba has appealed to Uganda and Rwanda tourism sectors to cooperate and market Kigezi region and part of Rwanda as one tourist area.

He says President Yoweri Museveni, in addition to commercial agriculture and exploitation of the iron ore deposits in the area, he wants them focus on tourism sector.

“Now that God has helped us to reopen the border, it should assist us to jointly boost tourism, because Rwanda and this part of Uganda (Kigezi) are almost one tourist area,” he told a mammoth at Kigezi High Lower Playground in Kabale town at the climax of a two-day series of events to mark the reopening of the Katuna/Gatuna border with Rwanda.

 The border was reopened in January 2022 after three years and it followed a meeting between Gen. Muhoozi, who was by then commander of the land forces and President Kagame in Kigali, Rwanda. The reopening excited mainly traders, students and those with family members across the two countries. 

The colorful ceremony that was attended by a big delegation from Rwanda that included mayors from six districts bordering Uganda and senior military officers, started with Gen. Muhoozi travelled to Katuna border where, together with the leader of the Rwandan delegation, Dr. Geoffrey Mushaija, the Executive Secretary Rwamagana district planted a tree and laid a foundation stone for the Museveni-Kagame Border market in the no-man’s land.    

A delegation of musicians from Rwanda pose for a photo with singer Jose Chameleone in Kabale. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba

According to Muhoozi, it is easy to market tourism in Kigezi together with Rwanda since tourists find it easier to land in Kigali and drive to Uganda’s tourist sites including Lake Bunyonyi, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for the mountain gorillas and other wildlife in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Mugahinga Gorilla National Park. He says tourists find it easier because it is shorter to drive from Kigali to Kigezi than from Kampala.

Gen. Muhoozi thanked people who had invested in the tourism sector in this region. “I therefore send a request from this ‘Rukundo-Egumeho Thanksgiving and Concert’ to have a greater cooperation between Uganda and Rwanda tourism boards to jointly work together so that we sell this as one tourist area,” he said.

Muhoozi says he believes in Pan-Africanism and advocates for a borderless Africa where people are free to trade and move freely throughout Africa. 

Singer Jose Chameleone has a word with the former IGP Kayihura in Kabale. Photo by Eddie Ssejjoba

Uganda and traders, he says, lost huge sums of money from trade and services after the Katuna/Gatuna border was closed in 2019. But since it was reopened in January 2022, trade between the two countries has steadily recovering.

Referring to figures, Gen. Muhoozi said that before the border was closed, Uganda’s annual trade earnings were standing around $200m per year, which translates to $17m per month.

But after the border was closed, the figure went down to $60,000 dollars per month. He however said when he checked with Bank of Uganda before his trip to Kabale, he established that current standings indicate a monthly earning of $20m per month ($240m per annum), which he says had gone far higher beyond the original figure.

“And with this current figure we are only talking about export of goods and not informal trade and services., but if we include informal trade which is not monitored, and services like tourism and banking the figure is far higher,” he stated. He criticized some panelists on some local television channels, who he said dispute the figures due to their ignorance.

In a special way, he thanked the organizers of the event, including all units of the mighty MK Movement. They included Michael Nuwagira aka Toyota, the Team chairman, event organizer Balam Barugahara, MP David Kabanda from Kasambya in Mubende who is the deputy spokesperson of the MK Movement, MP Michael Mawanda, Shedrack Nzeire Kaguta, Woman MP Kabale Catherine Ndamira.

Ndamira told Muhozi that although he spoke of big factories coming to Kabale, many youths who were engaged in small cottages had a big challenge of power and wondered why power can be exported to Rwanda but remains unstable in Kabale.

Other team members included Frank Gashuma in charge Buganda, Kabale Mayor Emmanuel Byamugisha Sentaro, MP Bukanga Stephen Rwakanumba, Bebe Cool, among others. The function was also attended by Gen. Kale Kaihura whose presence excited a delegation from Kisoro.

The Rwandan delegation included mayors from the districts of Nyagatare, Burera, Musanze and Gicumbi, businesspeople and representatives of the security and military forces. Others were football players whose team, Gicumbi FC had a friendly match with a select team from Kabale and the Massamba Intore cultural troupe. 

Dr. Mushaija, the leader of the Rwandan delegation thanked Gen. Muhoozi for his personal efforts in improving the relationship between the two countries, saying many were taking advantage of the cordial relationship to enhance development. The prayers were led by a number of religious leaders from the catholic, Church of Uganda, Muslim and Pentecostal Churches.  The guests were entertained by artists including Joseph Mayanja aka Dr. Jose Chameleone and his brother Douglas Mayanja aka Weasel, gospel singer Peace Mbabazi, the Rwandan Massamba Intore, among others.


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