What you need to know:
Masitoowa has been going from strength-to-strength in past years, attracting families with its quick commute to the city, affordable schools, active night life and employment opportunities.
One would be forgiven to think that business in Masitoowa never ends. Located in northwest of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) offices and south of the Nansana Police Post Nansana municipality, Wakiso District, the trading centre is alive by 6am and does not close down until late into the night. Some of the businesses operating in the area are banks, hair salons, retail shops, health centres, restaurants, supermarkets, night clubs, real estate offices and the food market.
The trading centre is also popular for its bimonthly market days locally known as Kamubuulo where traders from different corners of the country bring their merchandise for sale.
Matia Ssezooba has lived in Nansana since 1999 and has also been a property broker for 22 years. Ssezooba says when he moved to the area, the now famous Masitoowa was just full of coffee stores which were ran by some two friends. Ssezooba, who started out as a shopkeeper believes the place was named after the coffee stores which have since been demolished and replaced by a building that houses Bank of Africa and a Supermarket.
John Crizestom Wamala, 67, who was born in the area and now lives in Nansana East II B Zone, says Masitoowa, got its name from the Cash Crop Stores that were ran by Indian traders before they were expelled from Uganda in 1972.
“I was born here and as were my grandparents. My ancestral home is in Nansana East II B Zone formerly called Kitawuluzi,” Wamala says.
He says the main economic activity of the area was cash crop farming.
“The locals grew coffee, cotton and maize and all the harvested produce was sold to Indians who owned stores at Minor Road, which connects to Kyebando trading centre. People used to say they are going to Sitoowa za Bayindi which after the expulsion of the Indians simply became Amasitoowa,” he recounts.
In addition to buying produce from the locals, the Indians also sold items such as clothes, sugar and soap in their stores. There were also a few locals who used their bicycles to earn from the trade. They would ride door to door, buying produce especially coffee direct from the farmers and then sell it to the Indians. Indians had monopolised the wholesale and retail business in Uganda those days,” he narrates.
After the expulsion of the Indians, some local residents took up their businesses and started running them as their own. Others took the advantage of the vacuum and opened up coffee stores opposite the original Indian stores and started trading in cash crops.
“Like any other business store, Masitoowa started attracting different people from different villages hence its growth into the busy centre you see today,” he says.
Masitoowa has all the makings of a suburb about to explode into a real estate hot spot. Located not more than a 30-minutes’ drive from the Central Business District, it is close to major employment centres and has fairly developed transport infrastructure.
Because of the many businesses in the area, there are employment opportunities as well as affordable housing.
Today Masitoowa has grown into a major centre for almost all economic activities for Nansana East and West zones. Besides that, the place is home for Nansana’s nightlife with places such as the famous Tex Bar and Club Icon among others.
It is currently more of a commercial area as most of the original residents sold their land to acquire bigger pieces of land in areas of Namayumba, in Wakiso District or partitioned their homes and turned them into rentals and business spaces.
Land in Masitoowa has no fixed prices according to Real estate developer Ronald Mutesasira of Tabula Property Services. He explains that landlords usually set prices of their property depending on the accessibility of the place. He, for example, says a 100x50ft plot along the main road costs between Shs400m and Shs500m while the same piece of land off the main road costs between Shs70m and Shs80m.
Mutesasira says the area is so much in demand that it hard to find an undeveloped piece of land.
“What we are selling now are already developed properties that developers can flip or totally demolish and build afresh. The area that was inhabited by low income earners has for the past five years started embracing middle income earners hence the rapid development of the business centre,” he says.