Uganda now targets Hydropower Dams in tourism diversification plan
Authorities in Uganda are moving to add some of the country’s Hydroelectric power generation dams unto the growing list of new tourism additions in a bid to diversify the East African Country’s tourism sector.
Last week, the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) and Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) signed a partnership to package and market the Karuma (600MW) and the Isimba (183MW) HydroPower Dams as superstructure/infrastructure tourism products.
Isimba which was commissioned on 21 March 2019 and Karuma which is expected to be commissioned June next year, are all owned by the Government of Uganda and managed by UEGCL.
Lilly Ajarova, the UTB Chief Executive Officer and Hon. Daudi Migereko, the Board Chairman signed on behalf of UTB while Dr Eng. Harrison Mutikanga, the UEGCL Chief Executive Officer and Proscovia Margaret Njuki, the power Board Chairperson signed on behalf of the power generation company.
The MOU which runs for three years will Institute a study to evaluate the potential of transforming both dams into tourism destinations, develop promotional content including photographs and or videos for the stations, by promoting them as tourism products to both domestic and foreign tourists via various platforms at her disposal.
“This MoU marks the beginning of an important journey for Uganda. When brought to fruition, the successful development of Karuma HPP and Isimba HPP into tourism sites will further diversify our tourism portfolio and therefore contribute to our core objectives i.e., sustainably increasing the volume (numbers) and value (earnings) of tourism to Uganda and by extension, Ugandan households, and livelihoods, through the creation of jobs and increased tax revenue,’’ Lilly Ajarova, the Uganda Tourism Board CEO said.
Tourism at hydropower sites was not new as this has been demonstrated at the Three Gorges hydropower site in China, Livingstone site in Zambia, and Niagara Falls hydropower site in Canada.
A recent World Bank study— Statistical and Economic Analysis of Uganda’s Tourism Expenditure and Motivation Survey 2019 established that adding one additional night to all Ugandan tourists has been found to directly add USD67 million to tourism industry earnings or USD166 million in direct and indirect earnings, an equivalent of between 0.3 per cent and 0.7 per cent of GDP.
The same study reported that every USD1 spent by a foreign tourist generates an average of USD2.5 of GDP- both directly and indirectly along the value chain. This compares well with the USD 2.3 of GDP generated per USD1 earned from traditional exports from Uganda.