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Need for intensified efforts to improve Kagera economy

The region currently stood at the nineteenth position among the 21 regions with income per capita standing at 483,158/-, compared to the national average of 693,470/-. Kagera Region is situated in the north-western corner of Tanzania. Bukoba, the region’s capital, is a fast growing town situated on the shore of Lake Victoria. It lies only 1 degree south of the Equator and is Tanzania ’s second largest port on the Lake Victoria.

The region neighbours Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi and lies across the lake from Kenya. You may arrive in Kagera by air from Mwanza, by road from Rwanda or Uganda or by ferry from Mwanza. Kagera region comprises seven Local government Authorities namely Bukoba Rural, Misenyi, Muleba, Karagwe, Biharamulo, Ngara and Bukoba Municipal.

Bukoba town is the headquarters. According to the 2002 National Population and Housing Census the region has a total of 2,292,093 (1,128,802 males and 1,164,291 females) with an annual growth rate of 3.1 per cent. Kagera Region enjoys a favourable weather pattern with average temperature at 26.02 degree Centigrade and annual rainfall ranging between 88-1,100 mm during months of September to January and March to May.

The region is a hub in the Great Lakes Region where investors could benefit by exploiting abundant resources. It is a hub with abundant untapped resources. People should exploit and penetrate the East African Common Market. The region has a total of 1,593,758 hectares suitable for agricultural purposes while 674,174 hectares were utilized, equivalent to only 46.7 per cent. The region has a total of 29,798 hectares suitable for irrigation while 18,370 hectares were utilized, implying 62 per cent.

Also, until February, last year the region had purchased a total of 130 power tillers, compared to Mbarali District, in Mbeya Region with 300 power tillers. The Region covers a total area of 40,838 square kms. Out of the total area 28,953 square kms is land and 11,885 square kms is covered by waters of Lake Victoria, Lakes Ikimba, Burigi, and Ngono and Kagera Rivers. For a long time, production of both cash and food crops in the area has been declining mainly due to poor soil fertility.

It is also on record that the farmers in the area use very little amount of fertilizers on their farms. Data indicate that during 1988/89 season a total of 478.1 tonnes of fertilisers were distributed to villages in the region out of which only 159 tonnes were used by the farmers. Again, in 1991/92 season a total of 258.05 tonnes of fertilizers were distributed to villages out of which 85.2 tonnes were utilized.

Kagera Regional Commissioner, Fabian Massawe, has invited investors, both local and foreign, to invest in the region through construction of five star hotels and industries. He challenged the residents to turn to agro-processing of their crops to get more value from their sweat. He noted that there was a conducive environment for investment opportunities.

Opportunities in the region include modern infrastructure such as a tarmac road from Mutukula on Uganda border linking the region to Dar es Salaam and reliable air transport between Bukoba and Mwanza, Bukoba - Entebbe (Uganda). The region has many historical sites suitable for tourism including Rumanyika/Rugondo Game Reserve, Burigi, Biharamulo Game Reserves and Kamuli Hot Springs, in Karagwe district.

Also, people should start honey production whereby a kilogramme was fetching up to 10,000/- compared to a kilogramme of coffee which fetch only 500/-. The region is rich in mineral resources with gold found in Biharamulo district and Nickel in Ngara district. Kagera region is endowed with abundant tourist attractions. However, most of them have not been effectively tapped and developed due to lack of promotion and low investment in the sector.

The Kagera Regional Economic profile reveals that the region has five game reserves with a total of 5,526 square kilometres. The game reserves with respective kilometres in brackets are:: Biharamulo (1,300); Burigi (2,200); Kimisi (1,026); Rumanyika (800) and Ibanda (200). Various types of wildlife are found in these game reserves. They include elephants, lions, giraffes, buffaloes, leopards, hippopotamus and antelopes, to mention but a few.

There are also certain species of birds and butterflies found in these game reserves, which cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Tourist attractions found in the region include traditional houses of chiefs Rumanyika of Karagwe, found at Bweranyange, Chief Kasusura of Biharamulo and Chief Balamba of Ngara.

AS the globe continue to tackle the Covid-19 ...

Author: MEDDY MULISA in Bukoba

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