By Anne Mugisa
THE Serena Group has set up a second hotel in the country, the Lake Victoria Serena Resort. The resort, which is part of the Aga Khan economic empire, lies on an expansive piece of land measuring 275 acres on the shores of Lake Victoria.
The land belonged to the Ranch on the Lake Hotel until about four years ago when Serena Group bought it and built a new hotel. The facility has so far cost $20m (about sh40b).
Another $30m (sh60b) is earmarked to complete the construction.
President Yoweri Museveni yesterday presided over the official opening.
He, however, left shortly after unveiling the plaque on the hotel for the launch of the countryâ€™s five-year development plan.
Museveni delegated the trade and tourism minister, Kahinda Otafiire, to represent him.
The resort has 124 rooms and conference facilities. But work is going on to build 54 houses and 90 apartments. Also under construction are a golf course and a marina.
The launch was attended by Cabinet ministers, diplomats, visiting Kenyan government officials, including tourism minister Najib Balala, and members of the Ugandan business community.
Otafiire said Uganda had also resolved to open up Queen Elizabeth, Kidepo and Murchison Falls parks for investment.
He said the country has had a shortage of hotels and tourism facilities due to lack of peace.
Otafiire cautioned Ugandans not take peace for granted, and called on those criticising the Government to acknowledge its contribution to peace and development.
â€œYou may not like us. You may not like Museveni as a person or the way he looks but he symbolises peace and stability and so does the NRM. So vote for him,â€ he said.
He also commended the Aga Khan for the investment, saying Ugandan should take advantage of the large East African market to make money.
Otafiire argued that small profits per capita in a large East African market were more profitable than the bigger profit per capita in the single markets of the individual isolated countries.
He also criticised those opposed to the East African Community, saying they erroneously thought they were protecting their own interests.
â€œThey opposed it saying it will bring competition. But these people are not even selfish enough. Why would they not want to sell in a bigger market and stick to their small one?â€ Otafiire asked.
Referring to the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya in which over 100 people died, Balala advised Ugandans not to take democracy for granted.
â€œWe need to appreciate peace and preserve what is in Uganda. Do not repeat what happened in Kenya in 2008,â€ Balala advised
He also called on members of the East African Community to promote tourism in each otherâ€™s countries.
Balala said he and several of his colleagues in the Kenyan cabinet visit tourism sites in the other member countries.
Serena Hotels managing director Mahmud Janmohamed commended the Government for enabling the group to carry out investments in Uganda.
The Aga Khan has investments in banking, insurance, pharmaceutical companies, education institutions, media, housing, and a significant stake in power generation both at the Bujagali and Nyagak power dams.