Since its inception in 2015, Nyege Nyege International Music Festival has never diverted from its mission: To shine light on East Africa’s growing pool of artistic talents and to make Uganda the host of the most exciting music festival on the planet. In 2018 it attracted over 3,000 tourists, making Uganda the premier music travel destination on the continent. Featured on every major music publication in the world, including the The Guardian, CNN, BBC, Rolling Stone and The Economist, Nyege Nyege is now a global phenomenon. And to top it off last Friday at the Ekkula Pearl of Africa Tourism Awards it was recognised as the “Best Overall Tourism Event in Uganda 2018”. Together with the Government of Uganda, it has promised to leverage this prestigious award and grow the festival industry to attract more positive press and visitors to Uganda. Tourism relies on competitive advantages, and while Uganda is on par with other regional players when it comes to Nature and Wildlife, it is the hospitality of its people and the diversity and richness of its culture that will set it apart in the future.
The organisers have dedicated their award to the late Ambassador Julius Onen, who hosted the festival at Nile Discovery Beach since its inception. Ambassador Onen was a very fervent supporter of the festival and of culture in general, and he will be greatly missed. The organisers have promised to continue to fulfil his vision of a prosperous Uganda known for its culture, beauty and hospitality.
The city of Jinja and the community of Njeru have greatly benefited from the festival. Since it became MTN Nyege Nyege in 2017 the festival has grown to nearly 10,000 attendees and this has brought a tremendous boost in the local economy. From casual workers to hotel owners, from rolex sellers to restaurant owners, artists, crafts sellers, cab drivers and other local entrepreneurs, everyone benefits from MTN Nyege Nyege. During the festival alone over 250 vendors reported profits from the festival. The festival has made a commitment to contribute to host community of the festival, and year on year people have shared amazing stories of how they were able to buy a plot of land or send their kids to university after the festival, every single hotel is fully booked during the festival and the city of Jinja has witnessed a twentyfold increase in business during the time of the festival.
A music festival is synonymous with peace, hospitality, culture and fun, and by becoming a globally recognised festival, Uganda is now constantly associated with all those positive elements in the international press, which directly affects the image of Uganda and the amount of visiting tourists. Many festival attendees elect to spend more time in Uganda, visiting national parks, and staying in beautiful lodges.
After receiving the award, Talent Africa’s CEO Aly Allibhai has vowed to continue to use his resources as the premier event management & production company in the country, to support the vision of the Nyege Nyege founders, and continue to strive to make this the best festival in the world. The festival has also announced that it would work more closely with the Ugandan Government in order to communicate better on its purpose and avoid any confusion with regards to false statements that have tried to bring the event down last year. The Festival believes that it needs to work together with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to guarantee a quality experience for all foreign visitors as well as Ugandan and East African audiences.
Since its inception the festival has pushed for more regional tourism, and last year alone it attracted over 800 Kenyans and 300 Rwandese, many of whom had never come to Uganda in the past. Regional weekend getaways are becoming a trend in regional tourism, but most people tend to go to the coast of Tanzania or Kenya. MTN Nyege Nyege wants to reverse this trend and encourage people across the region to visit Uganda more often.
This year MTN Nyege Nyege is partnering with European, American, Asian and African tour operators in order to reach out to new markets. Requests have poured in from artists all over the continent to attend, and by continuing to propose a Pan African line up, the festival directly advertises in new African countries. Last year, under the MTN Pulse program, MTN invited 20 Ghanian taste makers to Uganda to experience the festival, as a result the festival expects an influx of Ghanian visitors.
By promoting traditional music and other cultural practices from the four corners of Uganda, the festival is able to highlight the cultural diversity of Uganda, something unique to the Pearl of Africa. It creates pride amongst Uganda that cuts across tribal differences and promotes unity through diversity.
MTN Nyege Nyege is also at the forefront of national tourism, by introducing camping culture to Ugandan audiences (1500 Ugandans camped at the last edition) it opens up a whole new market to budget travellers, and encourages Ugandans to visit Uganda!
According to recent studies, Music Festival tourism is the fastest growing segment of the global tourism industry, doubling over the last 3 years to a 4 billion dollar industry. Facts show that more people travel further to gain new experiences and attend music festivals, Nyege Nyege intends to bring a bigger chunk of that market to Uganda.
The dates for the 2019 edition of MTN Nyege Nyege will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Tickets are expected to go on sale from the beginning of May. To celebrate the Ekkula Tourism Award, MTN Nyege Nyege Festival will throw a celebratory party on April 19th themed with a Full Moon party experience at the View Kampala located above Hotel Diplomat in Tank Hill, Muyenga.