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  • His Highness the Aga Khan and His Excellency President Museveni walk to the conference centre for the official opening ceremony.
    AKDN/Gary Otte
President Museveni and Aga Khan inaugurate Kampala Serena hotel

Kampala, Uganda, 10 November 2006 – His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni today officially inaugurated the Kampala Serena Hotel in the presence of His Highness the Aga Khan. The opening of the five-star hotel, previously the Nile Hotel, is a milestone for Uganda’s service and tourism industry.

The Kampala Serena Hotel is the latest addition to the Serena Group of Hotels, owned and operated by Tourism Promotion Services (TPS), an arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED). The new hotel will benefit from the Group’s regional presence. Serena Hotels in Africa has expanded from four units in the early 1970s, in Kenya, to a total of 17 properties in Africa, covering Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Mozambique, and now Uganda. Serena also owns and manages properties in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Tajikistan as part of its mandate to contribute to economic growth in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner.

In congratulating the AKDN for its contribution to the country, President Museveni said, “The story of the Serena is the story of the recovery of Uganda. The fact that you can have such a world-class hotel in Uganda is proof that Uganda is recovering.”

Speaking at the hotel’s inauguration ceremony, His Highness the Aga Khan said, “Our intention is that the model we have adopted elsewhere in the region will also be applied here -- so that this major new hotel in the capital city can be followed, as soon as the necessary allocations are granted, by a quality circuit of new resorts and safari lodges in the Ugandan countryside. When that happens, a new East African travel circuit will be completed -- featuring world class, state-of-the-art facilities, comprising a unique array of inspiring attractions, and offering a holiday experience ‘second-to-none.”

The Aga Khan noted that this growing African enterprise, in turn, was part of a larger Serena presence, comprising 25 facilities in eight countries in the developing world. He described Serena’s strategic and philosophical background: “In all of these places, the Serena projects exemplify a larger strategy. In all of these places, our goal is not merely to build an attractive building or to fill its rooms with visitors, but also to make a strategic investment which many private investors might be reluctant to make, but which promises to produce a magnificent multiplier effect as its impact ripples through the local communities.”

He went on to explain that although the multiplier effect was partially economic, the hotel will also have a significant social and cultural impact. “We are proud that our projects exemplify the highest standards of corporate governance and human resource development,” he said. “We also believe that, through the creative design of the hotel and through the activities it supports, this effort will help to nourish cultural pride, strengthen artistic expression, and renew traditional values.”

Built on 17 acres of lush grounds, the decor of the hotel reflects the Ugandan environment and culture. The architect, Jon Cavanagh of Symbion International, has been inspired by Uganda’s lakes, rivers, lush vegetation and fertile earth. These themes appear in both the exterior features of the hotel and in the room decor, where softly flowing fabrics, muted colours and organic themes prevail.

In keeping with Serena’s philosophy of integrating local art and culture into the design of each hotel, the skills of numerous artists have been called upon to create carved panels, mosaic pillars, beaten copper fretwork, traditional jewellery, beaded wall hangings and hand-carved ”bambara birds”, which decorate the communal areas. Artists include: Expedito Wakibulla, a Ugandan born wood carver; Yoni Waite (mosaic art); and Julius Mutungi, a Kenyan rock sculpture artist. The hotel is intended to highlight the beauty of African antiquity by the selection of art pieces placed throughout the hotel.

“Our intention has been that the Kampala Serena should become a flagship property second to none in this country and city. It must take its place with our other city-centre Serena hotels, Nairobi, Maputo and Arusha in this region, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Quetta and Kabul in Asia,” said Prince Amyn Aga Khan, brother of His Highness, and Chairman of Serena Tourism Promotion Services. “With our existing Serena lodges and hotels, we can already offer a borderless, seamless circuit covering Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zanzibar. This circuit, we aim to expand, both in this country and elsewhere.”

US$30.5 million has been spent in the refurbishment of the hotel over a 17-month period. The 152-bed hotel is one of the largest employers in the country. In keeping with AKFED’s policy, emphasis is placed on hiring locally. The hotel employs some 371 staff directly; of these, 97 percent are Ugandan nationals, while three percent are East African. Direct and indirect benefits positively impact a number of industries that supply goods and services to the hotel.

The hotel includes a conference centre equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. The centre is capable of catering to 1,500 delegates, making it an important venue for international conferences. One such conference on the horizon is the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which Uganda will host next year and which will be attended by Her Majesty the Queen, among other prominent delegates.

The Serena Hotels is part of a broad development programme in Uganda that includes healthcare; primary, secondary and tertiary education; training for professionals, including nurses and doctors, infrastructure projects that include hydroelectricity and rural electrification, and other private sector initiatives that include the fabrication of fish nets for Lake Victoria’s fishermen, the manufacture of essential pharmaceuticals and the operation of important media outlets.

For further information, please contact: Kampala Serena Hotel
Mr Killian Lugwe
General Manager
PO Box 7814, Kintu Road, Kampala
Tel: + 256 41 309000
E-mail: Website:

Aga Khan Development Network, Uganda
Mr Mahmood Ahmed
Resident Representative
Aga Khan Development Network
PO Box 36200, Kampala
Tel: +256 41 235 900

Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
Semin Abdulla
Department of Public Affairs
Gouvieux, France
Tel: +33 44 58 40 00
Fax: +33 44 58 42 79


His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims, comprised of ethnically and culturally diverse peoples living in over 25 countries around the world. A Harvard graduate in Islamic history, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather as Imam of the Ismailis in 1957. He is the founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private development agencies working to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia and the Middle East. The Network’s nine agencies work for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion and the underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for philanthropic activity is in excess of US$300 million.

AKDN in Uganda: The Aga Khan Foundation enhances universal primary education, supports and trains young professionals, runs 50 early childhood education schools and offers international scholarships for education abroad. The Aga Khan University Advanced Nursing Programme trains nurses from the private and public sectors; 146 nurses have graduated since the programme was established in 2000. The Aga Khan Education Services runs four schools in the country. The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development owns and operates numerous financial institutions including the Diamond Trust Bank and the Nation Media Group. Operations under the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) include the Bujagali Hydroelectric power plant, the West Nile Rural Electrification project as well as the new Kampala Serena Hotel.

AKFED’s mission is to build sustainable enterprises that contribute to economic development and create jobs in regions that are in need of foreign direct investment. It operates as a network of affiliates with more than 90 separate project companies employing more than 30,000 people and is active in 15 countries in Asia and Africa: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Senegal, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and Uganda. 

Serena Hotels, recipients of the Most Respected Company of the Year Award in East Africa for three consecutive years, enjoy a long-established reputation for the highest standards of comfort and service within environments that meticulously promote indigenous architectural, craft and cultural traditions. Serena builds hotel capacity in regions that are underserved with business and tourist accommodation by other hotel chains. Serena properties have been at the forefront of human resource development, the generation of foreign exchange revenue and providing employment to local residents while bringing environmental sensitivity to the tourism industry in the regions where they operate. Its current portfolio comprises 25 hotels, resorts and safaris lodges in 8 countries – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Zanzibar and now Uganda.