Jinja is arguably Uganda’s heartbeat. It is a gem of unrivaled beauty. An asset to Uganda of humongous economic potential and a testament to nature’s benevolence. From playing host to the world’s famous River Nile to anchoring Uganda’s major hydropower dams, it is developing into a well-planned, serene, and tranquil town.
The geophysical features of Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest fresh water lake, the source of River Nile: the world’s longest river, the water falls and the rapids of the river, the beautiful surroundings of the green hills, the valleys and the Asian architectural designs of buildings make Jinja the adventure capital and its well laid out physical planning makes it a city to embrace and fall in love with.
Jinja is emerging as a haven for tourism, hospitality, Trade and industry. Owing to its uniqueness and obvious competitive advantages in a wide range of areas, we are repositioning and promoting Jinja as a beautiful City for people to work and live in as well as Ugandan’s ideal destination for tourism, trade and
Useful Information about Jinja
Jinja is the second commercial Centre in Uganda, Africa. It was established in 1907. Jinja lies in the south east of Uganda, 87 km north east of the capital, Kampala. It is located on the shores of Lake Victoria, near to the source of the White Nile River. The city is the chief town of Jinja District, and is considered the capital of the Kingdom of Busoga Population. The resident population of Jinja is approximately 106,000 (an increase from 45,000 in 1980 and 65,000 in 1991), but it also draws in some 80,000 commuters each day. The majority of the population is of Bantu origin. Lusoga is the main local language. Average annual household income is estimated at US $100. The city of Jinja has been twinned with Finchley, London, England since 1963.
Agriculture thrives on the fertile soils, abundant water sources and reliable rainfall. Other industries are metal processing, leather and paper processing, grain milling, sugar, some organic fruits and coffee growing for export, and brewing for local sale. There is some local and export fishing on Lake Victoria. British-American Tobacco Uganda (BATU) closed its Jinja tobacco-processing factory in 2005, due to high taxes. The biggest local employer is currently the Kakira Sugar works, which runs on sugar alcohol – since there are said to be frequent power cuts in Jinja’s mains electricity supply.
The headquarters of Nile Breweries can also be found in Jinja. It is here too that you can find the Source of the Nile, from which the brewery has been drawing its water for the past fifty years. Building of the brewery commenced in 1952 but was only completed four years later. Bottles of Nile Beer (now Nile Special Lager and still the company’s flagship brand) were first enjoyed by consumers back in 1956. In 2001, Nile Breweries Limited was fully acquired by South African Breweries Ltd (SAB). A year later, in May 2002, SAB acquired Miller Brewing Company in the United States, thus forming SAB Miller plc. One pharmaceutical manufacturing company by the name Uganda Pharmaceuticals (1996) is also located in Jinja.
In recent years, Nile brewery’s investment in its people, brands and physical assets have given rich reward, both in performance and recognition. Volume growth and profitability have steadily risen, along with significant debt reduction that threatened the company’s ability to trade during the early part of the decade. This has encouraged further capital project investment.
There is a post office, town hall, a hospital, a golf course, and several Internet cafes. There are numerous small shops. There are many primary schools due to Uganda’s universal primary education. For older children there are also secondary schools: the PMM Jinja Girls Senior School, and Jinja Senior Secondary School which is now the largest in Uganda. They operate a British-style system of education. The literacy rate is currently around 60 percent. There is a teacher’s college at Jinja.
Before 1906, Jinja was formerly a fishing village that benefited from being on long-distance trade routes. The town was founded in 1907 by the British, as an administrative centre for the Provincial Government Headquarters for Busoga region. This was around the time that Lake Victoria’s importance in transport rose due to the Uganda Railway linking Kisumu, a Kenyan town on the lake, with Mombasa on the Indian Ocean, 900 miles (1400 km) away. Cotton-packing, nearby sugar estates, and railway access all enabled it to grow in size. By 1906 a street pattern had been laid out, and Indian traders moved in from around 1910. The Indians were Catholic Christians and English-speaking, and originated in the former Portuguese colony of Goa on the west coast of India.
British-American Tobacco Uganda (BATU) established a tobacco processing factory in Jinja in 1928. The town remained the capital of Busoga region, and in 1956, it was granted municipality status. At that time, it was the industrial heart of Uganda between 1954 and the late 1970s – supported by power from the hydroelectric Nalubaale Power Station at the Owen Falls Dam, which was completed in 1954. The dam meant that Jinja enjoyed clean, potable water on tap and an unwavering electricity supply throughout the 1960s. There was also a new and highly efficient drainage system leading into capacious sewers that emptied directly into the River Nile. Cars began to appear in the 1960s, often as taxi services.
Manchester-based Calico Printers Association, in association with the Uganda Development Corporation, constructed a large vertical textile mill (‘Nyanza Textile Industries’ or more popularly “Nytil”) in the mid-1950s. This utilized hydro-electric power from the Owen Falls Dam. By 1973 Nytil employed about 3,000 people and exclusively used Uganda cotton to spin, weave, and dye or print, to sell via its own retail chain, Label, throughout Uganda and Kenya. Genuine Nytil fabric was recognized by the “Silver Shilling” – a foil piece resembling a shilling which was inserted at one yard intervals along the edge of every cloth length produced.
As Jinja grew, new roads were constructed, serving local taxis and the many who lived outside the town. Each morning in the 1960s there would be a line of two-wheel traffic heading for the ‘sokoni’ or marketplace with cargoes of bananas or sacks of charcoal.
Jinja in the 1960s, like all the towns in Uganda, was subtly segregated, with little mixing of white, East Indian and black neighborhoods. The white area was by the lakeside, with houses affording large gardens, near a lakeside club with golf, yachting, a rugby pitch and swimming pool. White children studied at the Victoria Nile School, and were then sent to be schooled at Nairobi or the United Kingdom. The East Indians were the commercial and business class and lived in the rest of the town, and they greatly valued education: in 1968, the huge Jinja Secondary School had one white student and about half a dozen blacks, while the remaining 500 students were all Asian.
East Indians were expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1971 and 1972. Under Idi Amin’s bloody rule, it is said that so many bodies were dumped in Lake Victoria that they often blocked the hydroelectric intake channels at the Owen Falls Dam. Much of Jinja’s architecture is Indian-influenced, although the detailed shop-fronts and buildings were poorly maintained after the Indians left. Local industrial concerns also collapsed after the Indians were expelled. Many of the East Indians who are now returning to Uganda are choosing to set up businesses in Jinja.
Jinja is a major station on the Uganda Railway and is a port for Lake Victoria ferries. From the early 1900s access to the railway was by ferry to the railhead at Kisumu. It was not until the 1930s that the track was extended into Uganda. There is a good tarmac road west from Jinja to the capital at Kampala (80 km, 90 minutes by car, two hours by bus), but the tarmac road to the border with Kenya at Tororo, 100 km to the east, is generally in poorer condition. Buses and minibus taxis provide transport between Jinja and other Ugandan towns. Transport in Jinja is dominated by the ‘bicycle taxi’ bodaboda and motorbikes. The bicycle is very important to the town, and there are over twenty bicycle retailers. There is an airfield at Kimaka.
Local attractions include white-water rafting, the “Source of the Nile”, and a large brewery. Five miles/8 km north of Jinja is Bujagali Falls, which is located downriver from Owen Falls Dam. Bujagali Falls is a world-class spot for kayaking and white water rafting, and also a popular weekend picnic area for local Ugandans. However, the Falls are under threat from the construction of a proposed new 250 MW hydroelectric facility. There is a private Sailing Club on the shores of Lake Victoria. There is an animal sanctuary at Buwenge. The 9hole (18 tee) golf course was originally laid out in the mid 1920’s; and famously had a local rule allowing a free drop of the ball if it came to rest in a hippo’s hoof print. The course has tremendous views of the Nile and Lake Victoria and the second green is within a ‘lob wedge’ of the source of the Nile. Some of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes were scattered into the source of the White Nile. There is a small memorial garden at the spot. There is an active Hindu temple near Jinja, which has a bronze bust of Gandhi. There is also a Buddhist temple. About 25 km south, in Lake Victoria, is Buvuma Island — whose forests sometimes attract intrepid bird-watchers.
Rafting on the River Nile
Warm water, massive waves, beautiful scenery, and year round sunshine characterizes white water rafting on the White Nile. Challenge the legendary ‘Overtime’ (a 4.5 meter waterfall) and drop into ‘The Bad Place’ probably the largest commercial rafted hole in the world. Drift quietly in the calm pools between the rapids and marvel at the abundant bird life.
The Source of the Nile
The Nile River flows from Lake Victoria at what was the Rippon Falls and into Lake Kyoga. Still the Victoria Nile, it cuts a raucous passage west across Karuma Falls and through the narrow pillars of Murchison Falls towards Lake Albert. Finally the Albert Nile meanders along a slow wide corridor into Southern Sudan.
There are so many other adventure attractions in Jinja that include Bird Watching, Fishing, Boat Cruise, Kayaking, Horse Riding, Quad Biking and many nice hotels and restaurants.