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Mbarara Substitutes EAC Trade fair with a festival to expose the city to business opportunities

Joshua Nahamya


Mbarara city leadership headed by Mayor Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi has resolved to spend 100 million shillings on a city festival that was earlier earmarked for the 22nd EAC Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

During a planning meeting held at Igongo cultural center, Kakyebezi told stakeholders that the East African trade fair which was competed for by Mbarara, Mbale, and Gulu will be hosted by the central government in Kampala.

The city launch festival 2022 scheduled on 4th December 2022 at Kakyeka stadium will be graced by the speaker Anita Among as Mbarara commemorates the day it graduated to a city.

“You know 1st July 2020, is when we received a city status but it was during the covid19 that we did not celebrate. We again thought if the East African trade show is held here, it would be a golden opportunity to sell our image but because of political pulls it was taken to Kampala being the neutral ground” said Kakyebezi

Mbarara City Stakeholders attending a planning meeting for the city festival at Igongo cultural centre on Thursday. Joshua Nahamya

Since we are now going to celebrate our festival, which is almost the same as the trade fair, let us have this money put to the festival for mobilization to make sure we have a fruitful event, added Kakyebezi

Kakyebezi is assured that the festival will expose Mbarara to showcase its developmental changes for the regional city.

Richard Mugisha, Deputy City clerk confirmed that the mega event will cost the city council over 100 million.

“Actually we are looking for 100 mln from the city direct coffers but this is not enough, this is just a drop in the ocean considering the kind of festival we want. We are even in position to mobilise more from well-wishers and other stakeholder” Mugisha said

Some of Mbarara City stakeholders await for the city celebrations.

He said the city festival will begin with a business symposium, brass matches around the town, exhibitions, and cultural dances among others.

“We need to receive our city officially, jubilate and have it known everywhere. It will be a massive city event with a new mandate, new expectations and we call upon everybody that here” said Mugisha

He said the festival will be gazetted to become an annual event to recognize the milestone Mbarara has moved.

“Part of the festival is a business perspective but we expect proceeds which we shall have invested in advance in preparation for the city because we are looking at long-term benefits once the city is advertised

Once Mbarara city is exposed, businesses will boom, manufacturers, investors, industrialists, academicians will come and make money” Mugisha said

Mbarara Mayor Robert Kakyebezi

Going forward, we are also trying to have it as an annual event so we shall be having several anniversaries until celebrating a city becomes a household vocabulary”

Assy Abirebe, city clerk of Mbarara is optimistic that being a new city with a fast-growing track record, Mbarara will out-compete the other remaining 9 cities.

“Every month we approve more than 100 plans for developments and going forward, we should not miss on any of the international events, slots or prizes because we want it to be a model city” Abirebe sad

Aggrey Twijuka, a businessman in Mbarara asked local leaders to work on infrastructural development that will reflect the milestone during the city festival.

“Is it a welcoming city really? Imagine when you’re coming from Ruharo going to town, look at those portholes on the road. If they can be worked on before the festival to give a good image to the city” Twijuka said

The 22nd Trade Fair scheduled to take place from 8th – 18th December 2022 at the Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, Uganda will be held under the theme “Buy East African to Build East Africa for Resilience and Sustainable Development,”. It will bring together more than 1,000 artisans from all seven (7) EAC Partner States.



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