Transforming Moroto: my vision for Karamoja region

The culture is great. The people are exceptional. And the surprises are many. If you are a leader from Karamoja, what would be your

The culture is great. The people are exceptional. And the surprises are many. If you are a leader from Karamoja, what would be your vision? How would you transform Karamoja into a modern enterprise?

All leaders have grand aspirations for growth. You need electric power. Piped water. Great roads. And all infrastructure for growth. But mere wishing is cheap. Even a primary kid dreams of flying inan airplane one day. As a leader, you must think in reality mode. Dream big but within context of the current realities.

One of the biggest challenges of Karamoja, just like other regionsof Uganda, is overreliance on the Central Government allocation and donors to finance their budget. Any external funding comes with lots of attachments– the do’s and don’ts of the money.  The funder has their own understanding of what needs to be done different from what you think should be done.

In Karamoja, the first priority is to own a kraal of cows. Change management is critical for the unprecedented success of the region. If you are a leader and are not concerned about revenue mobilizationand sustainability you are shortsighted.

I was in Moroto for the bigger part of the week ending 29th April 2017. Moroto is the leading town in Karamoja region. Thanks to government, the key streets within Moroto town are tarmacked with street lights. The shops along the streets are busy and there are signs of a growing and vibrant town.

Karamoja region as a whole, and Moroto municipality in particular, has a lot of potential. The people are some of the shrewdest and confident I have come across. You can see children tending to cattlegrazing. Women carrying children on their backs and a large bag on their heads. All theinhabitants are tall and energetic.


Let’s focus on tourism for Moroto to bring money on the table.


Moroto has a great Mountain which provides a spectacular view for the guests or visitors and protects the town, from winds and other similar vagaries of nature. Great investors are coming to the city. Hotel Africana is already constructing a big hotel in the city, at a location just as you enter the city from the Nakapiripirit road.

When you visit Moroto, you cannot fail to notice the number of tourists in the town. I noticed that that most of the great hotelsare fully booked. It is interesting to see the vibrancy of activities at hotels.

The challenge for the town leaders is how to leverage from the current infrastructure and involve people (the locals) in the development.  How can the leaders help the locals put money on their tables through household income in the predominantly cattle keeping town. The Government shouldfocus on the following to achieve sustainable development for Moroto Town:

Tourism. By far, the highest revenue earner for Moroto town is tourism. There must be deliberate marketing interventions to develop and attract the tourism Industry. This should be the main stay of the people in Moroto. I see great opportunities for this. The Moroto mountain offers not only a spectacular view, it could be developed to offer great past times and attractions for tourists. For example, the Karamoja culture annual show dubbed,The Annual Moroto Mountaindance – a dance on the mountain top of Moroto, if developed and marketed could be one of the most unrivalled attraction bringing in lots of revenue.

During the dance, key cultural assets could be showcased – like the cows being made to walk in one straight line on the mountain top; and the spectacular view such an activity could provide. This offer could be available as a package, and people would have to pay a lot to enjoy it. During our holiday in the Dubai Desert Safari, I enjoyed the Camel walk view. There is no reason why the Cattle walk, plus the fact that Karamojongs have great donkeys and camels – to do a dance of all the three would be spectacular, and the only place in the world to find the real authentic mixed dance of the great three domestic animals. This together with a bull fight would make a great show.

The Moroto mountain climb could be a big winner. The Mountain is located just within the municipality, overlooking the city, more and better positioned than that of Rio de Janeiro of Brazil. Adding a huge man-made physical feature on the Moroto Mountain could be a game changer as well. Since Karamoja is known for cattle, a very huge cow monument overlooking the city or even the crucifixion cross just as can be seen on the Rio de Janeiro Mountain, could be great and drivetraffic.

The good thing with tourists, they bring in the money, which locals and shrewd business people need to thrive. This in turn encourages cultural exchange; inter marriages, and opportunities for exposure; for the locals. In Uganda, Karamoja has the highest illiteracy rates. Highest rate of malnutrition and the highest of everything in the wrong side of the scale. That is bad.

Also the annual cow competition or dance could be another key attraction. This together with local art pieces and traditional wears could be a great tourism attraction.

Did you know that in Moroto, there is Karamoja museum which boasts of an archeological stone which is 19 million years old? That is one of the key things that should be highly promoted.

As a leader, your biggest call is to improve people to succeed. Looking at Moroto, and Karamoja in general, there is need for quick fixes. And only tourism has potential to transform the town to a very vibrant one.

Just a stone throw across the border in Kenya, the town is very vibrant. The leaders of Moroto must explore opportunities to improve household incomes. Promoting tourism and empowering all locals to tap into the opportunities association offers a quick and sustainable fix. The road network to and from Moroto is very great. The minimum basics to transform Moroto like electricity power, water and good roads are in place. The road to referral hospital looks great from the outside. The people are hardworking.

Let’s focus on tourism for Moroto to bring money on the table.


One Comment

  • Samuel Eyangu

    This is a great inspiration which if actualised would really transform Karamoja and of course bring in revenue to the government of Uganda and karamoja as a region. Thanks Mustapha for this piece.

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