Uganda’s richest man Dr Sudhir Ruparelia is currently setting up what will become East Africa’s biggest convention centre at Speke Resort Munyonyo as preparations for the Non-Aligned Movement Summit scheduled for early next year gets underway.
Dubbed the Speke Convention Centre, the facility upon completion will not only host the NAM Summit, but also the G77 China conference next year, and will become a venue for government and private functions and conferences, among others.
During a press conference held at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Tuesday, July 18, Dr Sudhir who is the Chairman of the Ruparelia Group said that the multi-billion project of the Speke Convention Centre is a joint venture between Meera Investments under Ruparelia Group and Uganda Corporation Bank (UDC), an investment arm of the government.
“The share into this project is on a 50 to 50 per cent basis, an equal number of shares and equity,” Sudhir explained.
When asked for an insight into the construction progress and how the facility will look upon completion, Dr Sudhir said the convention centre was 75 per cent bigger than the UN conference hall, and the biggest in the East African region.
“The present conference centre consists of 20 conference rooms, but the new centre that we are building, in addition, will have one big hall, which will sit about 3,800 people and extra people, and we have another conference room, which will sit another 2,000 people.”
“In all, we have 23 conference rooms combined and all the facilities are integrated, we have the Victoria Ballroom side, Speke Ballroom on another side, and Speke Conference Centre in the middle and connected on all sides. We can, in total, host 6,000 people in one go, that is quite a big facility,” he added.
The project, according to Sudhir, was taking a lot of strain on him to ensure it is completed in time for the summit. “We are working 24 hours a day, and everybody here is busy all the time, you can imagine how much effort all these people have put in to get all these things done,” he stated.
“Ruparelia Group, through our two subsidiaries, Speke Hotels and Meera Investments, is sparing no effort to ensure that we deliver this key strategic national facility on time,” Dr Sudhir assured the stakeholders including the government, the media and key partners.
The Speke Resort Convention Centre according to Dr Sudhir is being developed on a 105-acre luxury resort complex that already has two luxury lake-side resorts⏤ Speke Resort Munyonyo and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, also owned by the Group.
The three iconic properties combined, bring to Uganda’s hospitality sector about 40 indoor meeting and banqueting facilities of various sizes, with a capacity to host 19,000 people. This is in addition to several other outdoor venues.
Away from meeting venues, the complex boasts 476 accommodation rooms, including 54 presidential suites and 3 ballrooms.
Dr. Sudhir said the project which started in November last year, will be complete in November this year, in time for the January 2024 NAM and G77 Summits.
Meanwhile, Mr Rajiv Ruparelia, a Director of the Ruparelia Group said that apart from hosting the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and G77 South Summits, the Speke Resort and Convention Centre will enhance Uganda’s competitiveness in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions (MICE) potential and competitiveness.
“This Convention Centre is certainly a much-needed and strategic addition to Uganda’s profile as a competitive destination for key meetings, conferences and trade exhibitions in the region and on the continent. The two summits will be crucial to enhancing and marketing that potential,” Rajiv said.
He added that at the development stage, the USD47 million facility employs 1000 people, working in two shifts, with an indirect impact on 5,000 people in total.
“We need all the support for this project from all people who love development.”