City on the move: Gulu, Uganda

Gulu, Uganda

On 1 July 2020, the residents of Gulu in northern Uganda woke up as city dwellers. Previously, the country only had one official city, Kampala. Gulu and six other municipalities had their status changed as part of Uganda’s thirty-year vision, Uganda Vision 2040. The plan is to create 15 regional and strategic cities.

“More than fifty years after independence we finally got some new cities,” laughs Josephine Okot, founder and managing director of Victoria Seeds Ltd, a seeds company in the country.

Okot believes Gulu offers meaningful opportunities to investors and entrepreneurs alike.

“It is my home town, so maybe I am a little biased, but it would be a great time to take advantage of the city as it is the meeting point whether you are coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo or from South Sudan,” she says. “There is opportunity in tourism as it is close to Murchison Falls National Park as well as Kidepo Valley National Park.”

In 2019, President Yoweri Museveni stated that the Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Works and Transport should revamp Gulu airport to get it to international standards. Currently, the airport operates as both a civil and military landing strip. Sky Travel and Aviation, a privately owned airline from South Sudan, commenced flights to Gulu at the end of 2019.

Okot believes the pending airport upgrade opens up opportunities for agricultural value addition in the city and region before export. She lists sesame oil, groundnuts and shea as some of the viable products for value addition near the city.

“Once you have an airport, you are not limited in your value addition, you can even export fresh products,” she says.