SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
21st October 2004.
MTN takes sport, music to great heights

By Elizabeth Kameo
WEEKLY OBSERVER

When MTN Uganda was launched six years ago, music and sports were some of the fields at their worst in Uganda. Today, the environment is different, thanks to the company’s sponsorship and promotions policy.

Aggrey Kagonyera
SPOTTED: MTN entertainers at Namboole before the Uganda - SA match

This year, MTN Uganda went a step ahead and not only promoted sports but added local music and local artistes to the list. “We have been involved in sponsoring sports for a long time, and now we are involved in promoting local music and local artistes, and helping upcoming artistes by showcasing artistes of different styles from kadongo kamu to ragga and hip hop,” says MTN’s Sponsorship and Promotions Manager Aggrey Kagonyera.

In music, MTN’s highlight is the sponsorship of Ekiggunda ky’omwaka every first weekend of July. This year, the festival brought together an estimated 50,000 fun-loving Ugandans to Nakivubo Stadium for a day- and night-long festivity at which more than 120 musicians performed.

“For us to have an opportunity like that to sponsor, with 120 local artistes performing, is pride, joy and satisfaction,” says Kagonyera.

However, that is not where supporting local music and artistes ends. And it does not stop in Kampala either. “We take all the leading artistes to different parts of the country in what we call the MTN Yellofest. The MTN Yellofest is an opportunity for all these artistes to go and showcase their talents in selected towns of Uganda throughout the year. It is something we started this year and something we look forward to continuing,” Kagonyera says.

This year, the Yellofest has taken place in Mbale, Soroti, Gulu and is yet to rock many more towns. According to Kagonyera, MTN’s involvement in music is one way through which the company is trying to spread the appreciation of local music, and also improve it.

“The appreciation of local music has greatly improved, and we want to make sure that it reaches all corners of this country. We want to see the appreciation, love and support of local music grow.”

He added: “This year we have gone big in music and sports because these two identify with our values; these two are vibrant and allow people and groups to bring out their talent and creativity, so it is not by accident that we are into music and sports.”

MTN supports both established and upcoming artistes of different genres. For sports, MTN understands and appreciates that it touches almost everyone and cuts across all barriers.

Over the past few years, MTN has supported different sports disciplines. The company sponsors the most successful Rugby team, MTN Heathens, the MTN Basketball league, hockey in schools, as well as the Kampala Kids League.

“What the children have been doing for three consecutive years in the Scandinavian countries is a manifestation that supporting sports development is the way to go,” says Kagonyera. “By doing this, we are forming a strong base.


KKL has demonstrated this, as has hockey and so has basketball.” He added: “As a result of MTN’s sponsorship, the basketball league has grown from a small league to a big succesful league that everyone looks forward to and it is well covered in the media.”

MTN pledges to continue supporting sports and music. “Not only do we support and sponsor music and sports here in Uganda, but also as a group. It is something that is done everywhere and will continue being done because the two identify with our values,” Kagonyera says.

ekameo@ugandaobserver.com