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Uganda, UAE firm, sign MoU for Kidepo Airport construction, works to begin in August

President Museveni signs on the artistic impression of Kidepo International Airport as H.E Abdallah Sultan Al Owais (L) chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry in UAE looks on. PPU Photo

Kampala, (UG):- President Museveni Thursday presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Government of Uganda and the United Arab Emirate firm for the construction of Kidepo International Airport with works expected to begin in August this year.

The MOU was signed between the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Works and Transport and Civil Aviation Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Thursday, June 20, 2024, at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala.

In the Memorandum, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry agreed to construct Kidepo International Airport near Kidepo National Park and construct tourist hotels within Kidepo National Park to boost the tourism sector and the economy of Uganda.

Abdallah Sultan Al Owais, the Chairman of the Chamber, told the President that the construction of the airport is set to start in August 2024, and he promised to deliver good work on time, with Kidepo International Airport becoming Uganda’s second-biggest airport after Entebbe upon completion.

The President expressed his happiness about the strengthened relations between Uganda and the Gulf countries that were not there in the past. He added that there is a lot of potential for investment between Uganda and the Gulf countries, which should be explored.

“I witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce led by their Chairman, H.E Abdallah Sultan Al Owais for the construction of Kidepo International Airport in Karamoja,’ said Mr Museveni in a post via X (formerly Twitter).

“This MoU is a sign of the deepening relations with our Gulf partners and another opportunity to cooperate in investment and trade,” he added.

The Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Hon Tom Butime, said the airport will come as a relief to international tourists who have been arriving at Entebbe Airport as they will be landing directly at Kidepo International Airport.

He said the tourists can then go to the national park, drive through Kitgum to Gulu, cross the Nile if they wish, and go to Murchison Falls National Park.

“The tourists will then drive on the tarmac to Fort Portal, Kibaale, Semuliki, Rwenzori, Queen Elizabeth National Park, then to Mbarara to Lake Mburo National Park, and back to Kampala,” Mr Mutime said.

The move is seen as a great step in Uganda’s tourism industry, which was heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the sector to its knees due to total lockdowns by countries around the world.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding was also witnessed by Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Katumba Wamala, the Minister of Works and Transport, Hon. Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, the State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, H.E. Abdalla Hassan Alshamsi, and the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Uganda.

About Kidepo Valley NP

Kidepo Valley National Park lies in the rugged, semi-arid valleys between Uganda’s borders with South Sudan in the northwest and only 5km from the eastern border of Kenya.

Located 700km from Kampala, KVNP gazetted as a national park in 1962, hosts over 77 mammal species.

Kidepo’s elephant population has surged from around 200 in the mid-1990s to between 650 and 1000 today. The African Buffalo population is now estimated at 10,000-15,000.

The Rothschild Giraffe is very notable, breeding more than 50 individuals from the bottleneck of the mid-1990s population of three and supplemented several from translocation.

The bird checklist of over 476 species with the common Ostrich, secretary bird, northern carmine bee-eater, little green bee-eater, Abyssinian scimitar bill and many more colourful and visible species.

Kidepo ranks among Africa’s finest wildernesses, according to the Uganda Wildlife Authority. From Apoka, in the heart of the park, a savannah landscape extends far beyond the gazetted area, towards horizons outlined by distant mountain ranges.

During the dry season, the only permanent water in the park is found in wetlands and remnant pools in the broad Narus Valley near Apoka. These seasonal oases, combined with the open, savannah terrain, make the Narus Valley the park’s prime game viewing location, especially with its dense populations of Lion, Buffalos, Elephant and many similar angulates.

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