Sudhir and Kasaija welcoming PM Nabbanja

Businessman Sudhir Ruparelia and the government of Uganda will build a modern Convention Centre at Commonwealth Speke Resort Munonyo. The centre will host 3,000 delegates and its first conference will be the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) scheduled for next year.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Sudhir and government was done on Saturday. It was attended by Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, Permanent Secretary Finance and Secretary to the Treasury Ramathan Ggoobi.

Sudhir and Kasaija welcoming PM Nabbanja

The construction is estimated to cost $40 million (Shs140 billion) but it remains unclear how much each side will invest.

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Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said the government lacked enough money to build its own convention centre on its land. “It is an urgent project and a lot of money is needed which will be difficult for government to muster at a short notice. There are many things we have to do so if we find a partner then it is easier,” he said.

Negotiations during the Saturday meeting at the commonwealth resort centered on how much each party to the proposed joint venture will invest in the project, assets management and as well as profits/loss sharing.

Kasaija added; “We are undertaking the project in partnership with Sudhir. The government puts in and Sudhir also puts in money. The architects are still calculating and then we will know how much government and Sudhir are going to pay. If we go together in business, when it starts to make money, we share the profits”.

Cautious to avoid a repeat of venue debacle during the CHOGM that Uganda hosted in 2007, Prime Minister Nabbanja expedited a process for Uganda to have its own national convention Centre.

Sources familiar with the discussions from the meeting on Saturday, said the project is to compromise a 3,500 seat ultra-modern auditorium, a suspended restaurant overlooking Lake Victoria, while additional presidential suites will be created with smaller conference rooms for sideline meetings during the NAM summit.

During the meeting on Saturday, a cross section of government technocrats and Sudhir employees thrashed out details of the project, including pre-viewing the architectural designs.

The NAM summit movement comprises 120 countries that are not aligned to any of the rival eastern and western power blocs and it was founded during the Asian-Africa meeting in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955.

It is leaders of these countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, with observer China and Russia who are expected to convene in Kampala in November 2023 for the movement’s summit.

“We are expecting 126 heads of state for the NAM conference. We have to set up a befitting conference Centre where they can deliberate. We are planning and we will be successful,” Kasaija said.

The commonwealth Speke Resort Munyonyo is a five star resort privately owned by Sudhir’s Ruparelia Group, and hosts major government and international events. It currently has 19 conference halls and 5 outdoor spaces for conferences.

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