Located in Entebbe, Kitubulu Central Forest reserve will soon open up for tourism following government’s move to allocate 45 acres of the forest’s 110 hectares to Procurement News to set up an eco lodge.
Speaking during the official handover of the land on Thursday, Robert Mwesigwa, Procurement News’ managing director, revealed how his company, in partnership with Tanzania’s Millennium hotel, will invest about Shs 3bn in the new lodge.
The eco lodge to be known as Sun Bird Kitubulu, will initially start with 20 cottages, a craft shop, and restaurant – to host tourists who will visit the area for activities such as bird watching, nature walks within the forest and water spot activities on Lake Victoria.
“We are coming here without any doubt to make money through ecotourism,” Mwesigwa said.
“We are coming here to maintain nature and add value to the natural trees here.”
Procurement News with its Millennium hotel won the tender in 2007 to set up an eco lodge in the forest –following an advertisement by the National Forestry Authority (NFA) calling for parties interested in this kind of business. However, following the difficult times at NFA, the process, which also involved an Environment Impact Assessment, was delayed.
Under the five-year agreement with NFA which is subject to renewal to 25 years, Procurement News will be required to pay an annual rent fee of $25,000. Procurement News – with operations in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi, has been around for the last 10 years dealing in publication of a magazine, procurement auditing, real estate and now hospitality.
The company also built the Sun Bird Munyonyo, set to open in two months. The company has also been awarded space in Mabira and Kalinzu forests for similar projects.
“We are working within the tourism circuit in the country, but Kitubulu being a gateway to Uganda, will be our priority,” Mwesigwa noted.
There was controversy recently over the forest reserve following protests from nearby residents that it had been sold to Mega industries. The reserve was gazetted in 1932 as a buffer for Lake Victoria which currently is under threat from industrialist polluters and beaches.
According to Maria Mutagamba, the minister of Tourism, Wildlife and heritage, who officiated at the handover, the eco lodge will go a long way in conserving the forest and inviting tourists to improve the lives of the community. Mutagamba noted that Entebbe is the face of Uganda; the reason it should be given more attention.