President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has today commissioned Four Points By Sheraton Kampala, a new International Brand hotel operated by Marriott International Inc.
The Sheraton franchise is owned by Portman Square limited, an international company with two operational hotels in Kenya; Four points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport & Four Points by Sheraton Hurlingham.
Commissioning the hotel in Kololo- Kampala, President Museveni said the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government made the right decision to support the private sector because it has since strengthened Uganda's economy.
He explained that they understood that being pro- private sector is actually part of nationalism and that is why the economy of Uganda has been able to recover quickly given the fact that it had collapsed during the time of former President Idi Amin.
“Our group started as a students' movement in the 1960s and during that time we were able to clarify on the way forward because some people confused nationalism and private sector growth; they thought that the private sector was part of colonial legacy; they thought that to nationalise companies was the correct way but this was a very big strategic mistake,” President Museveni said.
“We had all those ideas, then we went in to fight Idi Amin and during that time we were able to clarify our thinking and our conclusion was that “Uzalendo”(nationalism/patriotism) actually meant supporting the private sector because if you support that sector, it easily grows the economy for you and if the economy is strong, you can afford to be independent and who strengthens it? The private sector. You are talking of the 70 percent of the materials used here, who produces it? It's not the government, it's the private sector,” the President added.
The President also explained that in order to further revamp the country's economy, the NRM government had to return the confiscated properties to the Asians who had been expelled by Idi Amin.
“Some of our political leaders were sitting in Indian shops but we said you must bring back those shops because if you say that you want new investors but the ones who were here before are crying that you stole their property, how will the new ones come? We had to ensure that we are not part of those confiscating people's property,” he disclosed.
On the other hand, President Museveni welcomed the investors and assured them of a conducive business atmosphere.
“We were in a Commonwealth meeting in Malta and they said that Uganda, you are to host a Commonwealth summit of Heads of State. Then when I came back, I told my people that we are to host CHOGM 2007 but soon, a team came from London, they said that to host the event, we must have a minimum of 4,500 hotel bedrooms. I asked my people; how many do we have? This was around 2005. We had only 1,500, so I called the hotel people. I told them we shall give you all the tax exemptions but increase the bedroom number. Our people came up and by the time of the CHOGM, we had 7,500 bedrooms; we had passed the threshold which they wanted. Now, we have got 28,000 bedrooms,” the President said.
He also assured the investors of a ready market for their goods and services.
“Here we have got everything; the raw materials and the market. The internal market of Uganda is 46 million people now, we also have that of East Africa with 300 million people, the market of the whole Africa of 1.5 billion people and then we have the third-party market. This market is for goods. We also have that for services like tourists coming here and conferences. We are going to have a big conference of Non- Aligned Movement in January,” he emphasised.
“You are in a right place at a right time and I want you to bring me more especially in the area of manufacturing, agro-processing; we are big producers of coffee, producing 8 million bags which still go out unprocessed and when it goes out unprocessed you get 2.5 US dollars per kilogram of good coffee but if you process it, you get about 30 US dollars. This is really a goldmine for people who have seen far. Africa is the business center of the future because until recently, the population of India was bigger than the whole of Africa but now we have overtaken India and China.”
The President also appealed to investors to report public servants who frustrate them by asking for bribes.
“We have got some little ticks here, but they are preserved by you businesspeople because you don't report them. They come and harass you and instead of reporting them, you waste time. If you report them, we shall uproot them,” he cautioned.
The board member of the Four Points by Sheraton, Mr. Kaushik Manek was happy to introduce their 40 million USD brand to Uganda, saying that Kampala is a great business destination.
He also thanked the President for his exceptional leadership that has seen the country grow into an investment destination.
The General Manager of the facility, Mr. Gaurrav K Magoo said Four Points was delighted to open its doors in Uganda. He added that the facility has modern technology, and it will provide classy services to the hospitality industry without compromising the safety and standards of the people.
“We are committed to provide world class services to suit your tastes and preferences,” he said.
The 4-star hotel is situated at the foot of Kololo Hill. It is composed of 142 well-appointed guest rooms, restaurants, fitness center, among other amenities.