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Opportunities and why invest in Mbarara city

Posted by admin on March 28, 2023

Mbarara city is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. The city is among the 10 municipalities that were upgraded to cities starting July 2020. Others are Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal, Masaka, Hoima, Mbale, Soroti, and Lira.

Mbarara town started as an administrative center for the western region for the colonial governments around 1900’s. It derives its name from the local grass known as “Emburara” (hyperemia ruffa) that used to cover the area but the colonialists then could not pronounce Emburara and instead called it Mbarara hence the name Mbarara.

Mbarara that started as a township in 1957 was elevated to a municipality in 1974 is located in south western Uganda about 167 miles (270 kilometers) from Kampala. The town is strategically located in the central of western Uganda and a gateway to neighboring countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, DR Congo and Burundi.

Mbarara City has a population of 195,322 people, according to the 2014 National Housing and Population Census, and covers an area of 442.2 square kilometers.

The last population census of 2014 put at a population of 195,013 but the population is now projected to be 500,000 during day and 300,000 during night.


Urban farming; In Mbarara city already peri-urban lands is becoming a hotcake with shrinking agricultural land due to sale of land for residential/apartments, commercial houses and business facilities like hotels and accommodation but also the population is increasing thus investing in urban farming will be an opportunity to feed the increasing population amidst shrinking agricultural land.

“Already people are beginning to demarcate the used agricultural land into plots for sale. This means that agricultural land will be in the future no more here but the population is increasing so investing in urban farming will be an opportunity to reap from the already increasing population, “said Mr Asaph Mwebe,a resident of Ruti in Nyakayojo division.

Cottage industries, Cottage industry is an investment to invest in Mbarara city. If you are a resident or intend to reside in Mbarara you can turn the backyard of your home into a cottage industry making goods like soap, textiles, furniture, candles, arts and crafts and juice making and exploit the increasing population targeting opportunities in this town.

Countries like China have developed because of cottage industries. Cottage industries are key in improving household incomes and employment.

Transport; Transport is another sector to invest in Mbarara city. Business developments are already booming in areas that were annexed to the former Mbarara municipality (were largely semi-urban) to make Mbarara city like Nyakayojo, Biharwe and Kakiika. And also because of the high cost of living in the city center like accommodation, the population is now tending to go settle in these areas that are starting to develop. So investing in transport targeting people commuting to and from these areas to work in the city center would be ideal.

“Most of the people who stay here work in Mbarara city, you can see the number of bodas that operate here and Mbarara town especially in the morning and evening is very high. So investing in transport like special hire, taxi and boda boda business to ply between the city center and these developing areas can be profitable,” says Mr Andrew Kwesiga, a resident.

Real estate: Places that were predominantly large green open spaces covered with woodlands and farm land with scattered populations and considered remote for the poor and low class are being developed with visible traces of infrastructural development like roads.

These areas have attracted increased attention due to competition for urban land usage. These areas are now being developed and similarly the value and cost of land has greatly increased. The interesting part is that the strategically positioned people could be investors or home owners would rush to buy land there reap immensely as urban areas tend to expand.

Waste management and Cleaning services; Mbarara city has already passed by-law directing city dwellers to manage their own waste. Even those doing business in Mbarara city before getting a trading license or any other approval you have to show proof on who manages your business. This means that the city dwellers will have no choice but hiring service providers to manage their garbage. The emerging infrastructural developments like offices, arcades, malls all these also would require someone to offer cleaning services.

Tourism and hospitality business; Mbarara city is surrounded by a host of tourist attractions that include Lake Mburo National park, Eclipse monument at Igongo, the Ankole long- horned cattle, River Rwizi, Ankole cultural site among others. But also the city is a center linking to countries like DRC Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. So investing in hotels and accommodation can be another opportunity in Mbarara city.

Developing some of the sites like Rwampara hills and putting hotels and beaches across river Rwizi can be an ideal investment opportunity.

People from Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and DR Congo go through Mbarara to do shopping in Kampala and thus a need to increase stock levels in Mbarara so that they stop going to Kampala.

There are opportunities for value addition for pineapples, mangoes, oranges and matooke and they are plenty to create jobs. There is also a need more investment in recreation facilities; there are opportunities in the area of education with emphasis on hands-on skills which will trigger growth of cottage industries.

The city town clerk Mr Assy Abireebe they are working to exploit the abundant agricultural resources to invest in value addition for job creation opportunities and social-economic transformation.

“Mbarara city is strategically located in an agricultural zone so we are working on strategizing the city for value addition for job creation. We are also looking at the service sector like hotels, tourism, ICT among others,” says Mr Abireebe.

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