Friday, 10th November, 2006
The New Vision
By Anne Mugisa & Sylvia Jjuko
Museveni pledges rapid growth in 10 years
Uganda will achieve first world economic growth rates in about 10 years, President Yoweri Museveni said Yesterday.
“We can achieve 11% annual growth like China and Vietnam we need to address the issue of power, cheaper cost of transport to the sea, the railway and this must be addressed by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and new private sector investment in value addition," He said. Museveni was speaking at at the newly - rebuilt Kampala Serena Hotel, which he and the Ismailia Islamic sect chief, His Highness The Aga Khan, opened on Friday.
The hotel will be the venue for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November 2007.
Museveni said " We have achieved the minimum economic recovery and if we address those three remaining issues, in 10 or so years Uganda will have taken off.”
The President also directed the Ministers to give the Aga Khan the assistance he needs for his proposed investments. Museveni said he would meet the Aga Khan over the matter.
He and the Aga Khan jointly unveiled the commemorative plaque before a select audience at International Conference Centre.
The Hall was adorned in the Serena theme colors of brown and cream. Ndere Troupe treated the guests who include Prime Minister, Apolo Nsibambi, Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi, Ministers, diplomats and the business community, to traditional and creative dances.
The Aga Khan’s brother Prince Amyn Aga Khan attended.
The President asked the Aga Khan to invest in value addition of the Ugandan products like coffee, cotton, leather and others. He said that Uganda was loosing too much money in exportation of raw materials.
The Aga Khan said he was ready to carry out development activities in Uganda and in Africa. However he blamed inexperienced governments for stifling private investments by controlling or nationalising them.
He said in addition, private investors have been reluctant to support African initiatives because of political instability, currency fluctuations, lack of skilled man power and law rates of return.
He said that the investors now are looking at human rights, environmental protection, good governance and rates of financial returns as incentive to carry out investments.
“Countries like Uganda will have to take all these trends into account as they plan their economic futures and so will institutions such as the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED),” he said.
"We are determined to keep our traditional commitments to developmental rather than purely financial goals,” he said
He said his organisation was rewady to carry out a far - ranging vision so that they can be long-term players, during economic and political turbulence. He said Uganda had enormous potential in the travel and leisure sector, making the Serena project so important.
He said AKFED had identified other priorities such as Bujagali power development and micro-credit lease finance.
Museveni said Uganda was no longer interested in supplying raw materials to developed countries because it had crippled it. He said he had asked Chinese businessmen to buy Ugandan finished products instead of asking for raw materials.
"For three or four hundred years, we supplied raw materials including slaves to the developed countries and now China also wants raw materials. We can't do that. What sort of idiots are we?" Museveni mused. He praised Kampala Serena Hotel a world - class facility. He said the decor reflected Ugandan culture and its landscaping.
THE leader of the Ismailia Muslim sect, His Highness the Aga Khan, arrived yesterday for the opening of his newly-completed hotel, the Kampala Serena Hotel.
Kampala Serena Hotel will be the venue for the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM) in November 2007.
The Aga Khan, who arrived in his personal plane, number LX-PAK, to waiting members of his sect and hotel staff, was met at Entebbe International Airport by investment state minister Ssemakula Kiwanuka.
Looking jovial, the Aga Khan in a blue suit, cream shirt and blue-and-cream checked tie, disembarked from his craft at exactly 7:55pm, accompanied by his entourage.
He and Ssemakula hugged and then shook hands before he was led to a waiting Benz, adorned with a flag. He did not address the media on arrival.
A motorcade of 14 vehicles with Police escort accompanied the Aga Khan from the airport to Serena Hotel. Activity on Entebbe Road was paralysed as the motorcade passed.
People came to the roadside hoping to catch a glimpse of the Aga Khan, although it was dark. Vehicles gave way and parked on the roadside to allow the motorcade pass. The motorcade, however, got held up at the Clock Tower when other vehicles rushed through Katwe in a bid to go past the point before the motorcade.
The vehicles ended up blocking the road and the Police had to disembark and create way before the Aga Khan’s motorcade proceeded.
The hotel, which was formerly Nile Hotel, cost over $30.5m (about sh60b) to reconstruct.
The reconstruction, which included a complete make-over of both the interior and exterior, was completed in a record 17 months. The number of rooms shot from 80 to 152.
The ground floor and the first floor were rebuilt. An additional floor was built. A new lobby and business centres were installed and the lifts replaced.
Additional restaurants and bars, water falls and swimming pool, and a state-of-the-art health club and other recreation facilities were also added.
Serena Hotels chief Mahmud Jan Mohammed told journalists recently that the Serena Group also intended to carry out new developments on the International Conference Centre. They will include shopping complexes.
He said the group was considering construction of another facility in the Queen Elizabeth National Park or Murchison Falls National Park. He declined to say what the facility would be.
Mahmud said the hotel was receiving recognition in East Africa as the finest.
He said Kampala Serena Hotel had a 30-year lease, with an extension of another 25 years.
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