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Tourism Ministry Identifies 11 Acres of Land for Mahatma Gandhi Convention Center

Charles Magumba, the Town Clerk for Entebbe Municipality, says that the center will now be built in Bugonga village in Entebbe. He says the center will among others boost revenue for the municipality from tourism and the hospitality sector and also create jobs. The convention center was expected to sit on a 32-acre piece of land.
Part of the land identified for the Mahatma Gandhi convention centre
The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities has identified land to host the proposed Mahatma Gandhi Convention Centre in Entebbe Municipality in Wakiso district. The Permanent Secretary, Doreen Kamusiime, says that the land measuring 11 acres, has been allocated by the Ministry of Water and Environment on Plot 17 John Bahiiha Road in Bugonga village. 

"Initially the ministry of water had given us 16 acres but it later allocated 5 acres to the Nile Basin Initiative. So we now have 11 acres for the convention center." The center is in memory of Mahatma Gandhi who led India's non-violence Independence movement against British rule. 

According to Kamusiime, the Water Resources Institute, National Meteorological Training School, Water Quality Management Department, and the Uganda National Meteorological Authority Entebbe Hydro-meteorological station currently occupy the plot. However, the construction of the convention center will not start soon since the Uganda Land Commission-ULC is yet to issue a title for the land.

"Without a title, we cannot present evidence that we have secured land to the Indian government which will fund the construction of the convention center," Kamusiime said. In 2018, Uganda agreed to provide land for a convention center in Uganda in recognition of Mahatma Gandhi. The Indian government pledged to release US$ 79 million (Shillings 290 billion) for the construction of a state-of-the-art center.

The decision to build the convention center in Entebbe was made ahead of the visit of India's Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi to Uganda in July 2018.  At the time, Entebbe Municipal Council had identified land in Manyago village for the project. 

However, the land had encumbrances, which affected the implementation of the project. Church of Uganda claimed ownership of part of the land while 150 occupants of the Manyago estate demanded compensation of about Shillings 183 billion to vacate the land. 

Charles Magumba, the Town Clerk for Entebbe Municipality, says that the center will now be built in Bugonga village in Entebbe. He says the center will among others boost revenue for the municipality from tourism and the hospitality sector and also create jobs. The convention center was expected to sit on a 32-acre piece of land.

 

However, Kamusiime says architects from India will have to make adjustments. The convention center is expected to accommodate up to 5,000 guests. It will have exhibition areas. "We have big plans for the Mahatma Gandhi convention center namely connecting it to Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre and the Entebbe Botanical Gardens among other sites because we want to have a complete tourism circuit," Kamusiime said.

Lilly Ajarova, the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board, says the center on completion will boost efforts to make Uganda not only a leisure destination but also one for hosting international conferences, meetings, and events.

Ajarova says Uganda has the potential to attract large business meetings and events since it already has good rankings.  She cites the 2018 and 2019 statistics report by the International Congress and Convention Association-ICCA that ranked Uganda as the tenth and sixth most popular destination in Africa for hosting international conferences and events respectively.