The Nyege Nyege festival, currently underway in Jinja, began in 2015 as a four-day music and arts festival meant to provide a platform for underground local musicians and artists to showcase their talents and Uganda’s cultural offerings.
Currently Uganda’s biggest example of cultural or festival tourism, Nyege Nyege attracts thousands of local, regional and international visitors every year. According to the Uganda Investment Authority in Financial Year 2018/2019, Uganda is estimated to have earned $1.6bn from the arts, culture, creativity, and tourism sectors alone.
In 2019, the festival attracted approximately 13,000 attendees - with 4,000 coming from outside Uganda and in 2022, approximately 15,000 people attended the festival – with 10,000 Ugandans, 3,000 Kenyans and 2,000 international guests.
The festival is already a tourist attraction based on its location at the River Nile in Jinja – which attracts kayakers, white water rafters, bungee jumpers etc. and also markets Uganda first as a party and hospitality destination but goes beyond that to expose tourists to many of the other travel destinations available in the country.
But, the biggest beneficiaries of the festival are the hotels, lodges, motels, bed & breakfasts, inns and camps within Jinja and its vicinities as both local and international attendees require accommodation.
Additionally, locals in Jinja and its environs are employed either directly or indirectly as parking attendants, and accredited guides, offering transport services (Boda Bodas and car hire), supplying both raw and cooked food and so on.
The festival also provides space for multiple local SMEs from around the country to make money as vendors within the festival grounds. In 2019, 45 SME vendors were part of the festival and in 2022, 75 SMEs took part in the four-day event.
To cap it all, each of these groups either directly or indirectly remits revenue to the national purse through taxes, fees, licenses and so on – essentially contributing to the growth of the economy.
Accommodation is still available in Jinja but revellers are encouraged to book early, more than 400 vendors have also applied to set up shop at the festival, a sign that Nyege Nyege is an enormous boost for our local economy and Uganda’s most prized event that attracts tourists from all around the region and the world.