Hydroelectric dams in Uganda: new tourist reach

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  1. The UTB should help the UEGL to package and market a variety of projects and activities planned at the electric dams.
  2. Tourist activities and products to include are factory tours, boat cruises, sport fishing, hospitality facilities and souvenirs.
  3. The memorandum of understanding signed on September 7, 2021 at the Isimba dam supports UEGCL’s desire to use its assets to diversify its portfolio of activities and strengthen its sustainability as a growing concern.

“This MOU marks the start of an important journey for Uganda. Once materialized, the successful development of the Karuma hydropower project and the Isimba hydropower project into tourist spots will further diversify our tourism portfolio and, therefore, contribute to our core objectives of sustainable increase in volume (number) and of the value (earnings) of tourism in Uganda and, by extension, Ugandan households and livelihoods through job creation and increased tax revenues, ”said Lilly Ajarova, CEO of the Office from Uganda Tourism, upon signing. She thanked the management of the UEGCL for having aroused the interest in tourism and for having contacted the UTB to form this value-added partnership.

“The diversification and promotion of tourism products beyond animal tourism to include, among others, religious, cultural, culinary (food) tourism and now infrastructure tourism, is very important to us as a sector and certainly as UTB. This is why, in our Strategic Plan 2020 / 21-2024 / 25, UTB has privileged collaboration with the owners of tourist sites, the private sector and other ministries and agencies to develop and offer diversified tourist products in order to to extend the length of stay in a destination. , thus increasing tourism income, ”Ajarova said, especially for the domestic market.

Dr. ing. Harrison Mutikanga, speaking on behalf of UEGCL, said the MoU is in line with UEGCL’s five-year strategic plan (2018-2023) which, among others, focuses on the key objective of improve its business portfolio.

He hinted that using the vast hydropower assets as a tourism product will go a long way in unlocking the tourism potential of Uganda’s infrastructure. This is based on the fact that hydropower plants have unique characteristics both above and below ground. “As UEGCL, we promise full commitment to the partnership,” Mutikanga said.

Tourism to hydropower sites is not new, as has been demonstrated at the Three Gorges hydropower site in China, the Livingstone site in Zambia and the Niagara Falls hydropower site in Canada.

Relations between the two sectors, however, were not rosy in the first decade of the 21st century, when the Ugandan government embarked on an aggressive campaign to increase the country’s hydropower and energy capacity following a scarcity. to meet the demand of industries and growing populations. This came at a high cost to the tourism industry, as the iconic Nile sites, popular with world-class rafting and kayaking, were sacrificed in the name of development.

In 2007, the World Bank financed the Bujagali hydroelectric project, causing the disappearance of the first of the grade 5 rapids at Bujagali Falls and the relocation of the traditional Oracle of the falls, Nabamba Budhagali.

The Kalagala Offset zone was created between the International Development Association (World Bank) and the Ugandan government. The deal was made to mitigate damage from the Bujagali dam and he said the reserved area would not be flooded by another hydropower project. However, in 2013, the government secured additional funding from the Exim Bank of China to complete construction of the $ 570 million dam, ending the deal.

Certainly, power generation was essential for the development and industrialization of the country, even though the cost of 0.191 cents per unit was still within the reach of rural Uganda, as the burden was passed on to local people. households. What reassures the public is that the Isimba Bridge, built after the dam, at least facilitated travel between Kayunga and Kamuli districts, replacing the unreliable car ferry and boosting trade and commerce. tourism.

Downstream, the new Isimba Dam on the Nile remains popular for rafting and world-class competitions, including the Nile Freestyle Festival which draws the kayaking fraternity from the United States, Russia and North America. South as well as in Europe, many of which have trained on the Nile for world rafting competitions.

UTB Chairman of the Board, Hon. Daudi Migereko, who was interestingly the Minister of Energy at the height of the Dam Festival in 2006, said during the signing that the protocol d he agreement is part of UTB’s strategic cooperation program with the main public, private and non-profit agencies and organizations whose work has a direct impact on tourism.

In 2019, the government relaunched its intention to sanction a feasibility study for the construction of a 360 megawatt dam in Murchison Falls National Park through M / S Bonang Energy and Power Ltd. of the Republic of South Africa and the Norconsult and JSC Institute hydroelectric project, only to bow to pressure from the Association of Ugandan Tour Operators (AUTO) and civil society.

Let us hope that the diplomatic overtures of the UTB with the energy sector will bear fruit and that the precarious truce will be maintained; the paper trail says the opposite.

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