Uganda’s tourism minister gives Serena’s training initiative the nod of approval


(Seen in the picture are the Ugandan Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Maria Mutagamba [on the right] and the AKDN Representative for Uganda Mr. Mahmoud Ahmed [on the left]

Serena Hotels yesterday afternoon launched their Skill Development Project at the Kampala Serena Hotel in the presence of the Ugandan Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, the Hon. Maria Mutagamba. Also present was Mr. Mahmoud Ahmed, the Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network AKDN while the regional hospitality giant was represented by the Director of Operations, Mr. Killian Lugwe who stood in for the Serena CEO Mr. M. JanMohamed, Mrs. Catherine Waruhiu, Director of Human Resources and Mr. Anthony Chege, Country Manager of Serena Hotels in Uganda, among many others.

The partners selected from among the Ugandan hospitality training institutions, namely the Ugandan national Hotel and Tourism Training Institute, aka HTTI, the Makerere University Business School, the YMCA and the Jimmy Sekazi School of Catering were are set to benefit to the tune of over 380.000 US Dollars worth of training over the coming two years, financed through the German development bank DEG, which is one of Serena Hotels’ key partners through both equity and loan finance.

Minister Mutagamba applauded Serena’s initiative, calling it a ‘Wind of Change’ blowing through the tourism sector in Uganda, while urging other hotels to embrace the concept of training and look at it as an investment for the future and not merely a cost of doing business. ‘The UNWTO projects a 4 percent [annual] growth rate. Africa is currently leading in the growth rate at an average of 8 percent and particularly Sub Saharan Africa registering 12 percent. The overwhelming success of international and domestic tourism has given rise to a pressing demand for professionalism and quality service. The requirements for skilled and efficient human capital pose a serious threat to the future competitiveness of this service industry’ said the minister in her launch address before continuing: ‘In this regard I applaud the initiative of the Serena Group in developing the human resource capacity. Serena is undoubtedly a laeding hotel brand in Uganda and I believe that investment in human resource development greatly explains this achievement. I applaud the Serena Group for being visionary and leading the effort to upgrade hospitality skills in the country. Their plan to train additional staff and students from our key training institutions points to notions of sustainability, inclusiveness and corporate social responsibility in empowering our labour force’.

In a related mention did the minister also confirm that 47 hotels in and around Kampala had now been inspected and would during the second half of the year be awarded their respective star rating, as the grading and classification of hotels, under the East African Community’s various programmes to introduce common standards across the region, was taking root and being implemented by national governments.

The training programme Serena has now launched in East Africa will be undertaken by South Africa’s Lobster Ink, whose head trainer Russel Dunkley gave a brief introduction and elaborated on the state of the art methods of instruction through a multimedia presentation, based on the latest techniques of e-learning.

On a lighter note was Mr. Amos Wekesa, CEO of Great Lakes Safaris, who represented the Ugandan tourism private sector, given a ‘Happy Birthday to You’ song by all present before cutting a cake prepared by Serena’s pastry chefs after the function was over and the participants were able to discuss the finer details with the Lobster Ink staff members and heads of the training institutions selected for the 24 month long training initiative.

Well done to all concerned and on behalf of Uganda’s next generation of hospitality staff a great many thanks to Serena Hotels, DEG and all the partners involved.

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