From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Land of Milk.
Mbarara at Sundown.jpg
Motto: Ebirungi Biruga Omutuutu (Good things come from sweat)
Mbarara is located in Uganda
Location in Uganda
Coordinates: 00°36′48″S 30°39′30″E / 0.61333°S 30.65833°E / -0.61333; 30.65833
Country Flag of Uganda.svg Uganda
Region Western Uganda
Sub-region Ankole sub-region
District Mbarara District
 • Mayor Wilson Tumwine
Population (2014 Census)
 • Total 195,013[1]
Time zone +3 (East African Standard Time)

Mbarara is a town in Western Uganda. It is the main municipal, administrative and commercial center of Mbarara District and the location of the district headquarters. It is also the largest urban centre in Western Uganda.


Mbarara is located about 290 kilometres (180 mi), by road, southwest of Kampala, Uganda's capital and largest city.[2] Mbarara is an important transport hub, lying west of Masaka on the road to Kabale, near Lake Mburo National Park. The coordinates of Mbarara central business district are:00 36 48S, 30 39 30E (Latitude:-0.6132; Longitude:30.6582).


The name "Mbarara" has its roots in the English colonialists' mispronunciation of the word mburara - a certain type of grass; a favorite for the cows. Mbarara was formerly the capital for the southern region.

Mbarara has now has Six main divisions which are Kamukuzi Division, Nyamitanga Division, Kakoba Division, Biharwe Division, Kakiika Division and Nyakayojo Division

Mbarar is crossed a by a permanent river called River Rwizi which drains the area and supplies it with water for both domestic and industrial use

Mbarara has a number of streets, including Mbarara High Street (Main Street), Mbaguta Street (named after a former prime minister of Ankole), Bishop Willis Street (named after Bishop Willis, one of the first whites to visit Ankole and Mbarara), Garage Street, Makhan Singh Street, Buremba Road (Named after a village where the road heads which is located south of Bishop Stuart University approximately 5Km south of the main Business District), Bucuku Street and Victor Bwana Road (Named after a Ugandan Bush War comrade.


Mbarara Originates back in the pre-colonial era, as it was the capital of Ankole Kingdom with the Omugabe's (King) Palace, Mugaba, is located at Kamukuzi hill.

With the coming of the colonialists, the Omugabe of Ankole signed the Ankole agreement of 1901 which made Ankole part of the British protectorate of Uganda. This made the British to establish a fort at the place for easy governance which they named Mbarara after mis-pronouncing the native name Mburara a local grass that covers the most part of Mbarara. It was a common phenomena the Whites mis-spelling or mis pronouncing several Runyankore names including Ankole itself which was originally Nkore

Mbarara later received several missionaries of both Roman Catholics and the Protestants who established churches in Nyamitanga hill and Ruharo hill respectively. These were followed by a group of Indian businessmen who opened shops on the current location of the town.

In 1957 during the colonial era, Mbarara was elevated to the township status. The town started growing rapidly since it was the capital of western Uganda and having roads connecting to Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 1974 during the Reign of President Iddi Amin Dada, the town was elevated to the Municipality Status. It was later destroyed seriously during the 1979 Tanzania-Ugandan war that removed President Iddi Amin Dada from Presidency together with Masaka they were the most destroyed towns in Uganda

After the war Mbarara developed on a high speed and is ranked among the fastest growing cities in Uganda.

Mbarara is looking forward to get a city status and on 01 July 2014 the neighboring subcounties of Biharwe, Kakiika and Nyakayojo were consolidated to it so that it can get the required Population and Size to get the City status. The town is also looking forward to get the Subcounties of Rwanyamahembe, Birere, Masha, Bubaare and Rugando consolidated to get enough space of expansion with a Metropolitan containing suburbs of Bwizibwera, Rugando, Kashaka and Kaberebere. With this land, if granted Mbarara will be the largest city in Uganda by Size and Second Largest City in Uganda by Population.

Growth and Expansion[edit]

Mbarara City has received a remarkable growth and development within the last 3 decades.


Mbarara is a centre of various Educational institutions stating from Baby Care, upto University and other tertiary institutions.

Tertiary Institutions
Secondary Schools
  • Ntare School Established 1955, Located 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) on Ntare road
  • Mbarara High School Established in 1911 by the Angelican Church, the Church of Uganda, located on Ruharo hill approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) on Kasese road
  • Maryhill High School, all girls school located on Nyamitanga Hill
  • Nyakayojo Secondary School founded in 1984 by Angelican Church, Church of Uganda, located on Bwenkoma hill, in Ruti 6 miles (9.7 km) on Kabale road
  • Eden International School located in Kyamugorani
  • Sentah College located in Kakoba Mbarara

Human activity[edit]

The city of Mbarara has the largest number of milk processing plants in Uganda. The majority of milk processed is transported to Kampala and other major cities in Uganda.

Mbarara is the home of Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST), founded in 1989. There were many educational institutions well before then, including Bishop Stewart Teacher Training College now known as Bishop Stuart University which is located on Kakoba Hill, southeast of downtown. Other institutions of learning in the town include Maryhill High School, an all-girl school. Mbarara High School (MHS) and Ntare School are both all-boys schools. Built during the colonial days, these three schools were state boarding schools whose graduates go on to make major contributions to today's Uganda. Alumni of these schools include President Museveni (Ntare), Mzee Boniface Byanyima (MHS), Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs (MHS), and the academic Sam Nahamya PhD (MHS). Winnie Byanyima, the current Director of Gender Issues at the UNDP headquarters in New York City is a native of Mbarara. She had her early education in area schools. She represented the town in the Ugandan Parliament from 1994 until 2004.

With significance for all Ugandan cities, Mbarara was the host to the 2004 Annual General Meeting of the Uganda Local Governments Association, on 1 October, which saw the changing of the organisation to its current structure in order to represent all Ugandan local governments. Mbarara remains an active member of this governmental association.[3]


Most people who live in Mbarara are pedestrians. They walk from the nearby places and head to town for work. The other popular means of transport in Mbarara are Boda Bodas. They carry people from their place of residence to work places. The transport charge when travelling with in Mbarara is between UGX 1000-3000.

Taxis and public cars are not commonly with in Mbarara. They are mainly destined for long journeys. However very few 5 seater public cars have started operations with in the city. They are available only on two routes that is the Katete, Mbarara route and the Ruharo route.

Mbarara is a transport hub of Western Uganda

Road Transport
  • Masaka road comes from Kampala to Masaka and passes through Mbarara via the main street and it passes through to Ntungamo and Kabale and it becomes Kabale road after passing through Mbarara. The road continues south west and connects to Rwanda and Burundi.
  • Kasese road runs westwards to Bushenyi then to Kasese and continues to Democratic Republic of Congo via the Mpondwe border as it continues as the Mombasa-Lagos Highway.
  • The Kikagate road is being completed (2015) it starts from Mbarara Town in Nyamitanga (4KM off Kabale road) then heads southwards through Isingiro upto the Kikagate Border with Tanzania.
  • Ibanda road which starts from then Northwards via Mbarara Airport, through Bwizibwera and Finally to Ibanda.
  • Mbarara Bypass Road - A 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) bypass road, currently under construction, circling the northern half of the city.
  • Other roads which are unpaved include Buremba Road and Katete road which head to Isingiro, Mwizi road which stars from Ruti and goes off to Mwizi and the Kyamugorani road which goes north up to Kashongi.
Air Transport
  • Mbarara Airport - A public airport, located about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), by road northwest of town
Water Transport

Water transport is almost insignificant as the town lacks large water resources. A small scale water transport is done on River Rwizi


Besides the face to face communication, Mobile phones are the most common mode of inter-personal communication for casual talks, business discussions and official communication in Mbarara. For public notice, radio stations and newspapers are preferred.

Almost all mobile telecommunication networks in Uganda have their coverage extended to Mbarara. These include MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Orange Uganda, Uganda Telecom, K2 Telecom and Smart Telecom. They jointly provide services mainly in form of calls, SMS and Internet data.

Mbarara has one of the oldest post offices in East Africa. This mainly helps in mail message communications

Five major national Ugandan newspapers are always available in Mbarara and they include Daily Monitor, New Vision, Redpepper, Observer and Hello. On addition to these, two other local Runyankole newspapers are also available and printed in Mbarara that is Orumuri and Entatsi. These two publish twice a week.

Various radios are also in the city broadcasting mainly in Runyankole with a mixture of English. These include:

  • Radio West
  • Vision Radio
  • Endigyito Radio
  • Grace Radio
  • Crooze FM
  • Mbarara FM
  • Mercy Radio.
  • Radio Maria
  • Greater Africa Radio

Mbarara has one T.V. Station, TV West which predominantly broadcasts in Runyankole.


Mbarara Bypass Road[edit]

As part of the modernization of the Mbarara-Katuna Road (2011 - 2015), a new northern bypass road is planned for the town. The bypass will start from the Coca-Cola plant on Mbarara-Masaka Road at Makenke, pass through Rwebishuri, Nkokonjeru and join the Mbarara-Kabale Road at Katatumba Resort, about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), southwest of the central business district. The bypass is expected to decongest the city center by taking the long-dististance trucks destined for and coming from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, off the Mbarara city streets. The 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) road is expected to cost about €170 million (US$210 million), of which the European Union is expected to lend about €122 million (US$153 million) with the government funding the balance from its own resources.[4] (Official Exchange Rate: US$1 = Sh2,500). Construction has started with Reynolds Construction Company leading the way.


In 2002, the national census estimated the population of the town at approximately 69,400. The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), estimated the population of Mbarara at 82,000 in 2010. In 2011, UBOS estimated the mid-year population of the town at 83,700.[5] In August 2014, the national population census put Mbarara's population at 195,013.[1]

Points of interest[edit]

The following points of interest lie within the city limits or close to its edges:

  • Mbarara Brewery - A subsidiary of SABMiller; to be built at a cost of US$80 million.[7][8]
  • Mbarara Coca-Cola Plant - A bottling plant owned by Century Bottling Company Limited, a subsidiary of Coca-Cola International
  • Mbarara Steel Plant - Owned and operated by China Machine Building International Corporation (CMIC), a Chinese Government parastal company[9]
  • Home of BM Group of Companies(BM Investments, BM Technical Services and BM Steel) - Owned by Francis Mwebesa
Social services
  • Mbarara Airport - A public airport, located about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi), by road northwest of town
  • Mbarara Bypass Road - A 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) bypass road, currently under construction, circling the northern half of the city.
Financial services

The following financial institutions maintain branches in Mbarara:

Radio stations
  • 91.2 Crooze FM
  • Grace Radio 94.2 FM
  • Radio West
  • Vision Radio
  • Endigito
  • Radio Maria
  • Greater African Radio


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b UBOS, . (27 August 2014). "The Population of The Regions of the Republic of Uganda And All Cities And Towns of More Than 15,000 Inhabitants". Quoting Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Map Showing Kampala And Mbarara With Distance Marker". Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  3. ^ "About ULGA". Uganda Local Governments Association(ULGA). Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Newvision, Archive (26 May 2010). "Mbarara Gets Sh459 Billion Bypass". New Vision. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Estimated Population of Mbarara Town In 2002, 2010 & 2011". Uganda Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Namono, Lydia (20 March 2012). "Foreign retailers Flooding Uganda Market". Daily Monitor. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Wafula, Paul (11 February 2012). "South Africa Firm Plans To Invest Sh6.5 Billion In New Brewery". Daily Nation. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "SABMiller Opens Second Brewery In Uganda". 22 August 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  9. ^ Vision, Reporter (24 September 2012). "China To Build US$100 Million Steel Plant In Mbarara". Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  10. ^ Turyakira, Fred (28 December 2010). "Private Hospitals Urged To Implement Government Programmes". New Vision. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "About Mayanja Memorial Hospital". Mayanja Memorial Hospital Foundation. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "About Uganda Bible Institute". Uganda Bible Institute. Retrieved 21 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 00°36′48″S 30°39′30″E / 0.61333°S 30.65833°E / -0.61333; 30.65833