“Smart Partnership Dialogue” event opens in Munyonyo

The 19th edition of former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed’s brainchild “Smart Partnership” opened at Kampala’s premier lake-side resort and conference center in Munyonyo over the weekend.

The first meeting took place in 1995 in Langkawi, Malaysia as a predominantly south – South Dialogue for Commonwealth Countries – bringing together government, private sector, and civil society to discuss, in open forum, the challenges of their time and generation and bringing solutions to the table, often unconventional and certainly by thinking out of the box. Uganda is hosting the Smart Partnership Dialogue for the second time, after first staging the meeting in 2001.

At that time Munyonyo was in its infancy and even the catering was provided at the time by the Sheraton Kampala Hotel, but repeat attendees from abroad of the 2001 session were overwhelmed by the transformation of the resort complex. Not only was the original Speke Resort and Country Lodge, as it was known then, largely expanded and complemented by additional meeting facilities, but the new Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, opened ahead of the Commonwealth Summit in November 2007, brought in a new dimension of comfort and standards. An extensive marina was added at the time, too, now offering berthing places for those who wish to sail the lake when they have leisure time. The landscaping also has taken a boost.

Most impressive for the repeat visitors from 2001 were the now-matured gardens, which generally drew the most positive comments. Owner Sudhir Ruparelia and general manager Greg Petzer will undoubtedly be pleased having a full house once again and reaping the fruits of their labor. Visit www.spekeresort.com and www.munyonyocommonwealth.com for more information on the venue.

The Global 2009 Smart Partnership Think-Tanking Dialogue, as this edition is officially known, is expected to bring over a thousand participants together, and once figures and nationalities are available towards the end of the meeting, these details will then also be reported.

Notably, a number of participants had indeed arrived early to take advantage of organized tours to the Ugandan game parks, a welcome shot in the arm of the tourism sector, when as a result of the global economic and financial crisis, every single tourist visitor matters.

Diplomatic controversy was also avoided when President Bashir, wanted by the ICC, decided wisely to stay away to avoid arrest, after the ICC had officially deposited their arrest warrant with the Ugandan government.

Alongside the dialogue activities, an exhibition of art, culture, and business is also taking place during the entire period of the meeting for the benefit of visitors from abroad, showcasing to them Uganda’s development over the past years.

Visit www.smartpartnership2009.ug or www.cptm.org for more information or email partnership@cptm.org for specific details on membership; past and future dialogues; and the next session 2010 in Malaysia.