Uganda’s Great Rift Valley
Uganda’s Great Rift Valley with Queen Elizabeth National Park & Semliki National Park.
Which fact would you rather know:
That Ernest Hemingway did not die in either of the two plane crashes he suffered in Uganda but actually shot himself?
That Lake George may drain like a bath if the soft strata rock which the Semliki River flows down is eroded down by two meters?
Fortunately, you don’t have to choose because Andrew Roberts (an Englishman who moved to Uganda over a decade ago and was described as a ‘prejudiced’ Brit of ‘sheer colonial predisposition’ in a recent newspaper review.) gives you history, geography and science that’s both serious and fun in this detailed and enjoyable short book about a small corner of Uganda.
‘Uganda’s Great Rift Valley’ describes the area in which Uganda’s tourism attractions are most densely concentrated; the 500km Albertine Rift Valley in the west of the country, and the turbulent headwaters of the Nile (also a direct result of rift valley tectonics). Diverse natural attractions range from the national parks of the hot rift valley floor, where game animals roam the grasslands of Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls and rare birds and primates spill over from the Congo basin into the Semliki Forest, to the icy 5000m peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains, known to the Ancient Greeks as the ‘Mountains of the Moon’ – the legendary snowy sources of the Nile.
The book is essentially a compilation of snippets on every subject; history, wildlife, anthropology, geology, plate tectonics, combined with short interesting stories. The book is in three parts.
The first part of the book describes the features of the rift valley while the second tackles its wide ranging history, including the formation of the rift and the White Nile, hot springs and volcanoes, human evolution in the East African rift system, the lake kingdoms and Victorian explorers, and early tourists such as Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt:
“The ex-President’s approach to obtaining representative species of East Africa fauna might kindly be described as enthusiastic. During eleven months on the continent he amassed 4,900 mammals, 4,000 birds, …. These included … lion (9), elephant (8), Black Rhino (8), the rarer white rhino (5), Giraffe (7), Buffalo (6), Topi (12), Uganda Kob (10) and a Shoebill.”
and the Queen Mother (who in 1925 carried a .275 Rigby and knew how to use it).
Part Three is a much needed guide to Queen Elizabeth National Park – the first since stocks of a previous book ran out in 1997!
All interesting stuff and worth a read.Read More
Uganda Launches “Explore Uganda” Campaign
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has made an appeal to the international community to embrace Uganda as a tourist destination again, after two years of low business.
Launching a new campaign dubbed Explore Uganda, Museveni said that while Africa has not suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic as much as the rest of the world in terms of deaths, Uganda has performed even better than most of African countries.
Before the outbreak two years ago, Uganda’s tourism sector was earning the country $1.2 billion dollars or about Sh3.7 trillion in 2019, from 1.6 million visitors. Income from foreign tourists accounted for more than 60 percent of these totals.
The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities then had predicted that in 2020, the number of visitors would grow to 1.8 million and the earnings to $1.6 billion.
A 2019 Uganda Tourist Expenditure and Motivation Survey (TEMS) done by the Ministry amongst 4,184 foreign visitors to Uganda, found that slightly more than half of the visitors to Uganda, were returning visitors. And more than 60 percent of visitors said they were most likely to return shortly, to Uganda.
To return to this position and grow the sector further, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), decided to launch a new effort by rebranding “Destination Uganda”, and take on the evolving challenges in the market environment.
At the launch of the campaign themed: Rebranding the Pearl of Africa, President Museveni challenged those responsible for planning for the sector to get a new and unique message that will attract the world to Uganda.
He for example emphasised the need to sensitise the world on Uganda’s culture, the peace and the safety in terms of health, noting how the country has been able to deal with lethal disease outbreaks.
Uganda has been promoted by the UTB as a destination that is not only packed with “everything rare, precious and beautiful in Africa” but these resources are spread over an even smaller geographical area.
However, according to Museveni, the country has a lot that has not been explored.
On culture, the president said Uganda and African way of life has even more advantages that the world can learn from, especially how it has contributed to the fight against COVID-19.
Museveni argued that the disease was largely devastating to older persons and in the west, these are usually bundled into congested institutions, away from family care, unlike in Africa.
This is the latest of the several campaigns the sector leadership has launched and run in an effort to try and improve visitor numbers and earnings. UTB says, that in 2019, the campaigns and other initiatives including those targeting domestic tourism, African Tourists and the international ones, was starting to bear fruit, only for the trend to be reversed by COVID-19.
Lillian Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board Executive Director, said this time, they have made wide-reaching research and consultations before coming up with the brand message.
Among the issues targeted is for tourists to come to Uganda and stay longer, wish to come back and even recommend Uganda as a destination to friends and relatives.
The event that was aimed at bringing together all players in the tourism sector, was however boycotted by a group of tour operators led by the president of the Uganda Tourism Association, Herbert Byaruhanga.
He claimed that the government and UTB had not consulted them in the drafting this campaign as well as other policy-making decisions, adding that they did not even benefit from the government COVID- 19 relief packages.
However, this was dismissed as untrue by UTB. Speaking at the event, Ajarova sadi the launch of this campaign is also aimed at helping the players who are currently distressed, including helping them access affordable financing.
The Chairman of the UTB, Daudi Migereko vowed that they will continue helping the private sector do business easily because there is no way tourism can thrive without them.
He also added that they have compiled and submitted to government what the sector demands of them, including easing the credit and taxation regimes.Read More
Uganda Ranked 6th Best MICE Destination
Uganda has been the best destination in Africa in hosting international conferences and events. The pearl of Africa ranked the 6th position on July 11, 2020 confirmed by International Congress and Convention Association which heads the world leading association for the global events, conference and meetings.
Historically for the past 5 years, Uganda has been ranked consistently in the 10 top listed hosting international conferences and events in African destinations. Uganda ranked the 10th position in a four point advancement report of 2018. In 2019, Uganda hosted 22 association meetings such as Africa Now Summit, the 64th common wealth parliamentarian conference, 4th African Judicial Dialogue and many others. Due to so many international conferences in Uganda, foreigners, domestic, regional people also contributed on making Uganda the best destination for meetings, events and conferences.
Lilly Ajarova the CEO UTB not only mentioned 2019 conferences but also 2020 conferences that were held in Uganda. She said that in 2020, Uganda had organized and scheduled to host a number of notable conferences and meeting that had to be rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include Africa Climate week, the G77 Summit, CBR World Congress, the AFRAA Conference, Africa climate Week and world Health summit.
She concluded that as Uganda continues to grow its MICE industry, the next few years will see our association meetings increase as the world normalizes in the post COVID -19 era.
How special is Uganda about the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events)?
- Uganda offers the best safety with ease of entry to those visitors who want to access visa upon the arrival.
- There are various connecting flights options on our central location on the Africa continent.
- The pearl of Africa offers a wholesome e international meetings experience for all or large groups with a complete pre and post conference tour experience
- The assured Uganda Airlines are well known to be faster and direct flights to the pearl of Africa.
- Uganda has the large international conferences of upto 2500 delegates on the breezy shores of Lake Victoria and with a quite number of touristic attractions like national parks.
Why book your MICE tour to Uganda?
Uganda is not only known in hosting international meetings, events and conferences. It is a country that is full of amazing wonders. Popular touristic attractions include mountain gorillas that live in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. On a guided Uganda safari, also expect to see the tree climbing lions in ishasha sector, chimpanzees in Kibale national park and the big five safaris in savanna national parks.Read More
The Story Behind Black Star News: A Diaspora Founded New York Weekly
You may have heard of Black Star News, a New York-based and Ugandan-founded investigative newspaper, whose critical coverage of Uganda and metropolitan New York issues has made a name for its founder, Milton Allimadi. Ugandans Abroad wanted to pick his brain about the business, and share the insights he’s gleaned with other African entrepreneurs in the diaspora.
Black Star News initially ran as a monthly metropolitan newspaper, but transitioned to a weekly newspaper so it could run more current movie listings, which has helped the publication to survive. Although there is a market in reaching advertisers who want to target black consumers in New York, the recent recession took a large hit on the investigative weekly.
When the publication first started, it hit a chicken-and-egg scenario, where you couldn’t get ads without being known, but needed the revenue to invest in your publication.
The publication was founded with an investment by Bill and Camille Cosby, after Allimadi sent them a copy of his business plan. Black Star News’ first ad came from the Independent Savings Bank, which had once advertised with the City Sun, where Allimadi had worked before founding his own paper.
The bank, which is now part of Sovereign Bank, took out two full-page ads in the Black Star News.
Getting the initial first corporate ad was a huge boon. “’You get them, and you want to show that to every other advertiser,” said Allimadi. To figure out the rates for his publication, he looked at rates for other established publications like the Amsterdam News, a black publication that launched in 1909, and discounted them. Back then, he says that it was a question of time.
“Advertisers tell you from the get-go, come back in five years,” he told Ugandans Abroad. “I tried to make the calls as much as possible to sell ads, and do the writing and editing at night.” Now, he has staff members that sell ads full-time, freeing him to focus on journalism.
“The call is very efficient now,” he said, since the paper has been building relationships with advertisers for years. Before, he says, he “was just calling and playing the numbers.” As the paper got scoops, they were featured in media outlets that ranged from CNN to the New York Post and the New York Daily News, which helped bolster his relationship with advertisers. “
There’s some recognition,” he said. The recession, however, really damaged the relationships between publications throughout New York and advertisers, who slashed their budgets. “The recession was really, really bad on us,” Allimadi said. “It almost knocked us down.”
To survive, the weekly reduced its page count and cut their paper size, and cut the frequency that they came out for a few months, combining some of their issues to make ends meet.
Things have improved since the economy began to recover, to Allimadi’s relief. “It’s like night and day,” he said. In a 20-page newspaper, Black Star News typically sells about four to five pages of ads, some with multiple runs. They all sell ads on their website, which they hope to focus on more down the road. The newspaper is still “the bread and butter,” he says.
Their pockets are not as deep as other publication, and they rely only on freelancers, which helps them control costs. “I think our market is relatively untapped for African-American readership,” he said. “You can operate a profitable daily.”
The paper is focused on increasing its print runs and their advertising resources, and hopes to tap into a vacuum left by the Village Voice for investigative journalism. The Village Voice recently let go of veteran city reporter Wayne Barrett and lost Tom Robbins, a loss the newspaper might not survive.
“You wouldn’t believe the number of stories we have in the pipeline,” he said. “We want it to be a decent paper and viable as a business.”
For entrepreneurs interested in creating businesses that cater to African and Caribbean immigrants, as well as Latinos, Allimadi believes that the market is huge. “The demand is here,” he said. “Just create the medium.”Read More
Tourism in Uganda and Rwanda
Both Uganda and Rwanda are found in East African community and their economies are based on tourism as a major income generating sector.
Both countries have booming tourism sectors strengthened by the presence of Mountain Gorillas. The Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga Forest national park in Uganda hosts mountain gorillas.
Both Countries also host Chimpanzees – the chimps are considered as our close relatives and the second thought for option after Gorilla trekking. Rwanda’s chimpanzees are found in Nyungwe Forest national park while in Uganda, the chimps are found in Budongo forest, Kyambura Gorge, Kibale forest national park and semliki national park.
Both Rwanda and Uganda are neighboring countries which makes it easier for the tourists to combing the two nations. Some of the safari itineraries are combing safaris in Rwanda and Uganda.
Rwanda and Uganda are politically stable to create a favourable ground for tourism to prevail.
Mountain Gorilla trekking is the major tourism activities in both Uganda and Rwanda, followed by Chimpanzee trekking.
Differences between Uganda and Rwanda Tourism sector:
Uganda’s tourism sector is based on ten national parks: kidepo Valley national park, Murchison Falls national park, Kibale forest National park, Mountain Rwenzori national park, Semliki National park, Mountain Elgon National park, Lake Mburo National park Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and Mgahinga Forest national park while Rwanda is tourism sector based on three national parks including Akagera national park, Nyungwe Forest National park and Volcanoes national park.
Rwanda Development Board (RDB) is the government arm responsible for all tourism activities in Rwanda likewise Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Uganda.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest currently hosts Fourteen mountain gorilla groups while Volcanoes National park with ten habituated mountain gorillas.
Gorilla habituation is done in Uganda (4hours viewing Gorillas) while Rwanda has no Gorilla habituation activity at the moment.
Uganda has two parks where Gorilla trekking is conducted (Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park and Mgahinga National park.
Uganda has five trekking centres namely: Buhoma sector, Ruhija sector, Nkuringo Sector, Rushaga sector and the one in Mgahinga National park.
In Rwanda, Game drive is only done in Akagera National park while in Uganda; game drive is done in Kidepo valley National park, Murchison falls national park, Lake Mburo National park, Semliki national park.Read More
Tourism Private Sector Condemns Killing of Lions in Queen Elizabeth Park
Tourism Private Sector Jointly Condemns Killing of Lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Arrests Have Been Made
In connection with the death of lions in Queen Elizabeth national park, four people were arrested on March 23rd 2021. Lions that have been known for climbing trees have been found dead with their heads and paws hacked off, and their bodies surrounded by dead vultures, officials said.
Bashir Hangi the UWA’s communications manager said that they were “saddened” by the killings. The government agent that leads tourism sector said that it cannot rule out illegal wildlife trafficking which resulted into investigation with local police working hand in hand with conservationists at the scene.
“Nature tourism is an important part of Uganda’s economy, contributing about 10% of its GDP, and plays a vital role in the conservation of animals “Bashir Hangi furthermore stated.
He said UWA strongly condemns the illegal killing of wildlife because it does not only impact negatively on our tourism as a country, but also revenue generation, which supports conservation and community work in our protected areas.
In the previous incidents, a number of lions have been believed to have been poisoned in Queen Elizabeth National Park. For example in May 2010, five lions were found dead due to similar incident and 11 lions – including eight cubs – were found dead after a suspected poisoning in April 2018.Read More
UNBS Rolls out e-verification Service to Combat Counterfeit Products
Consumers will soon be able to electronically verify whether the products they are about to buy are genuine, of good and standardised quality or not.This follows a move by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to roll out a phone powered traceability and e-verification service called e-tag to combat the prevalence of counterfeit products on the Ugandan market.
Using this product, customers will be able to detect forgeries of labels by sending the digits of the labels to code 141. The code will be redirected to the centralised computer system where it will be verified.This follows the successful pilot launch where the body partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture to kick-start the e-verification of goods in the agriculture sector.
Dr Ben Manyindo, the executive director UNBS, said the e-tag will create a robust channel for not only quality verification and auditing, but also verifying the source of commodities plus their conformance with the acceptable quality standards under the Ugandan law. “We have a challenge in the market and we have been with this challenge for a longtime,” he said at Uganda Manufacturers’ Association in Kampala last week. He added: “There has been a challenge of substandard and counterfeit goods in the market for so long,” he said.
However, manufacturers have expressed worry that the additional charge for the e-tag will lead to an increase in the cost of the product.“We shall have to transfer the costs to the end product,” said Regina Nakayenga, a wine manufacturer.
But Dr Manyindo said the extra cost will be only one per cent of the unit cost of the products. He also said the new software will benefit manufacturers, distributors and consumers of fast moving consumer goods and other commodities to access critical information about the individual commodities at the point of purchase.
He revealed that 1.1 million tags have been sold especially to the agriculture sector alone. The system is being replicated in other sectors as well.
The e-verification service aims to empower all Ugandan commodity consumers and generate more than Shs1 billion in aggregated value per year thus supporting the Ugandan government in partnership with the manufacturing industry.Read More
More effort needed to promote human rights
The human rights cause in Uganda has taken both upward and downward trends. The upward trend is owed to the fact that Uganda has made tremendous progress in human rights structural development.
The government was been lauded the enactment of the 1995 Constitution, whose provisions lay a good platform for the protection and promoting of human rights. There has also been commendation to the government for establishing the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Inspector General of Government, and structures that provide a good platform for upholding human rights in the country.
According to Mr. Muhammed Ndifuna, the chief executive officer of Human Rights Network Uganda, the passing of laws, for example, the Access to Information Act, is also worth noting because it has enabled the public to access information.
“The establishment of the human rights department in the police is also astride the human rights cause in the country has registered,” he adds. The establishment of organs and laws in support of human rights has helped to establish a normative framework that enables people to promote, protect and defend human rights.
Mr. Ndifuna, however, says the human rights cause has a long way to go because the various structures and agencies established by the government to protect, promote and defend human rights have come under denigration.
“Many of them are undercut, not well facilitated, or are interfered with. There have also been several incidences of dishonoring some articles of the constitution,” he says.
He says some progressive laws have been systematically violated, taking the country back to where it came from in terms of the human rights violation. Human rights can only be protected in a situation where the rule of law is manifested; one of the cardinal principles is the separation of power.
Mr. Ndifuna says sometimes there is the intrusion of the executive in the judiciary and legislature undermining the protection of human rights. Although human rights defenders have faced many challenges including harassment, some achievements have been registered.
According to Mr. Ndifuna, human rights defenders have managed to monitor and document human rights violations and abuse in the country.
Mr Ndifuna says human rights defenders are also supporting the state to measure up to its obligation under international treaties. Civil society organizations work with government agencies and ministries to ensure that Uganda meets the requirements of the international human rights treaties.
Role of Parliament
The Parliament of Uganda has been instrumental in promoting human rights. Ms Monicah Amoding, the Female Youth representative, says Parliament managed to establish the human rights committee that was not existing. She says the human rights committee of Parliament has worked closely with other stakeholders to monitor policies, bills and laws concerning human rights.
UCC uncertain on registered sim cards as deadline looms
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) was by yesterday unable to give the numerical progress of the ongoing sim card registration exercise expected to end on March 1, a year after it was launched.
In a telephone interview with the Daily Monitor this week, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, said the overall performance of the registration campaign will be provided at the end of the exercise, reasoning that what is most crucial right now is for individual subscribers to ensure that their lines are registered as per the deadlines or risk being switched off in March.
He said: “Registration will be closed at the end of the month after which telecoms will be required to block unregistered simcards. Those that have not registered should hurry up and do so because; we (UCC and telecoms) agreed to maintain the initial February 28 deadline.”
UCC’s failure to provide simcard registration numbers is not helped by telecom firms, many of which have stayed cagey on their numerical progress. Save for Orange telecom which says that about 80 per cent of its 1.1 million subscribers had registered by end of January 2013; the others are only relaying percentages without declaring their latest subscribers bases.
For example, MTN Uganda says that more than 70 per cent of its subscribers had registered by end of January, Warid reports about 67 per cent, and Airtel more than 68 per cent. However, the failure to have a clear impression of the total numbers of the already registered and unregistered subscribers is in essence affecting all telecommunication stakeholders as no one can evaluate the progress of the exercise and forge a clear way forward.
According to the ICT minister, Mr Ruhakana Rugunda, simcard registration was adopted to streamline the telecommunication sector and also protect both the country and its people from individuals who use mobile phones to plan and perpetuate crime.
But since the exercise was launched on March 1, 2012, telecom firms have highlighted absence of national IDs as the biggest challenge to registering their subscribers mainly in rural areas. This, they believed, has slowed what would have been a faster exercise.
Last week, a journalists’ body, Human Rights Network for Journalists (HRNJ) filed an application to court seeking an injunction to stop UCC from blocking sim cards of unregistered subscribers on the stated deadline, on grounds that the whole exercise is illegal as there is no parliamentary approval.Read More
Low income earners to access insurance
Low income earners, who have for long been unable to afford insurance covers, are set to benefit from a new product that will enable them to pay their medical bills in case of an accident.
The MyLife mobile personal accident insurance product launched by Liberty Life – a life insurance service provider – and MCash – a mobile money payment service provider – provides cover for accidental disability, loss of life as well as hospital cash back in the event the insured is involved in an accident, upon payment of monthly fees of between Shs2,500 and Shs12,500 depending on the plan.
The product has three plans including silver where a customer pays monthly fees of Shs2,500, gold Shs6,250 for the gold plan and Shs12,500 for the platinum plan.
Upon being hospitalised for more than 72 hours, disability or loss of life, the beneficiary or customer is entitled to a lump sum of Shs1 million, Shs2.5 million and Shs5 million for the silver, gold and platinum covers, respectively.
Speaking at the launch of the product in Kampala yesterday, Mr Joseph Almeida, Liberty Life managing director, said the product was driven by the insurance firm’s commitment to create a range of products and solutions to meet customers’ ever changing financial, investment and lifestyle risk situations. “One will never know when an accident will occur and sometimes the unexpected happens when we least expect. …MyLife will take away the burden of worrying about the financial implication of such an accident,” Mr Almeida said.
He added that the firm has sophisticated software that enables them to track at any stage claim submitted to ensure prompt settlement after receiving all the required documentation.
MyLife product is expected to improve access to insurance, especially among the lower segment of the population which has for long been untapped and grow penetration rates from the current 0.6 per cent, at which it has stagnated for years. The product, however, will be accessible to M-Cash account holders as premiums will only be paid through M-Cash.Read More