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Nile Hotel Takes 49% Stake In Mbarara’s Igongo Hotel

The government has finally acquired a 49 per cent share in Igongo Cultural Centre and Country Hotel located in Mbarara. The move follows the conclusion of the share acquisition deal last month.

Igongo Cultural Centre located at Biharwe along the Mbarara-Masaka highway has emerged as a popular destination for travellers and tourists. Apart from providing hotel services, a section of the complex houses a museum or cultural centre mainly showcasing aspects of the Ankole culture from cattle keeping, food, housing, and dressing among others.

The government’s stake will be run by the state agency; Nile Hotel International Ltd whose business has in the past concentrated in Kampala running Nile Hotel and Conference Centre. The hotel is run under a 30-year concession by Kenya-based Serena Tourism Promotion Services, which renamed it Kampala Serena Hotel in 2004.

Nile Hotel International Ltd manager Joseph Barungi told URN that the owners of Igongo Hotel applied to the Government to invest in the facility. It is said that the owners of the centre needed a bailout to recover from a financial gap left by a debt that was acquired to complete the 4-star hotel.

The government referred them to the Uganda Development Corporation’s investment arm, NHIL, and the resultant due diligence led to the acquisition of 49 per cent shares. Although Nile Hotel did not disclose what it paid for the stake, Barungi said the offer was attractive because of the uniqueness of the facility and its well-thought-out concepts. A source told URN that the government paid 9 billion Shillings, while the entire facility is valued at about 49 billion Shillings.

“A key reason for acquiring shares in Igongo was because of their museum and eclipse monument, business aspects that make them stand out as an impactful tourism hotel,” he said.

The hotel prides itself on its serene environment away from the centre of central Mbarara. It is strategically located within driving distance of all tourist attractions in the region, including Lake Mburo, Queen Elizabeth, and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national parks.

“With the hotel’s convenience, exoticness and location and luxurious facilities, we have built a reputation for our attention to sleek design, impressive service and exquisite blend of luxury, comfort and style,” it says.

James Tumusiime, the name behind the hotel is also the proprietor of and founder of Fountain Publishers and was also behind the establishment of a national newspaper, the New Vision. In a statement on Twitter, UDC said it would continue working with Tumusiime in running the facility.

“We work with the private sector and not compete with them or drive them out of business,” UDC said.

On whether this is a one-off deal by the government, Barungi hinted at further acquisitions in the hotel, accommodation, and tourism sectors.

“It’s not definite but we are looking at investment opportunities identified by the Ministry of Tourism and UTB. Future investment will be determined by feasibility study outcomes,” he said.


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