Apart from being the first time an East African country is hosting the 126th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference, the meeting of parliamentarians from around the world in Kampala, also comes in the year when Uganda celebrates her 50th anniversary. What’s more, it is the first time Uganda’s parliament has ever had a female speaker, Rebecca Kadaga. These milestones make it an historical event, worth all the attention it is receiving.
The attention has been matched by the glamour and buzz outside of the summit’s main docket - discussing maternal health and.
Hosting the IPU did not come easily and many Ugandan officials believe it is a big opportunity for the country. The spokesperson for IPU organising committee Michael Bayiga Lulume (MP) says it is an occasion to showcase Uganda, and capitalise on it being named as the top tourist site by Lonely planet, the world’s largest travel guide book and digital media publisher recently.
“People come here knowing they will get time to relax and go site seeing. That means they come with money to spend while in the country,” Lulume said. “We are encouraging them to go to town and check our entertainment spots and other fun places – we want them to spend as much as possible.”
But it is not Ugandans dreaming of the success of the event, the visitors too, are taking note of the beauty of the country.
Choi Young-Hee, a Korean Member of Parliament says, “Since the country is close to the equator, I thought it would be so hot. But I am mesmerised by your weather. It is so beautiful. I also like the natural environment and that your hotels are not enormous like those in Korea. The structure of hotels here give them a good ambience – the simplicity is relaxing.”
She adds, “I was also amused at how so many people are living in small houses that are iron sheet roofed. Yet uphill along the road from the airport are a few luxurious houses that looked like palaces. I am hoping that I will be able to see more of the country.”
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