Uganda Economy Facts

Economical overview

Uganda has good economic conditions: a favorable climate, fertile soils, rich natural resources and a relatively well-educated population. Over the past 25 years, the country has shown high growth, but it has come from a low level and Uganda is still considered a poor country. The oil discoveries made in western Uganda are expected to give further momentum to the country’s economy, but production will not start until early 2017. However, economic development is hampered by a number of problems, such as widespread corruption and lack of infrastructure.

In the 1960s, Uganda was one of Africa’s richest countries, with a successful agriculture and a significant processing industry. Relative wealth was completely destroyed during Idi Amin’s regime in 1971–79. At that time, residents of Asian descent were displaced, which had dominated the business world. An important contribution to the economic recovery came when the displaced Asians in 1991 were invited to return and regain their property.

  • Major imports by Uganda, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

In the early 1990s, the government embarked on a successful business-friendly reform policy in accordance with guidelines from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Government spending was reduced by layoffs of 150,000 civil servants and state-owned companies were privatized. However, growth was slowed by major problems with the electricity supply, which limited the industry’s ability to increase its production as demand rose.

In 2000–2009, GDP rose by more than 7 percent a year, after a slowdown in growth. The engine of the development has been the private business sector, which has been stimulated by the liberalization of the state sector. The dependence on a single export product, coffee, has also been broken. The telecom industry and retail are among the sectors of the economy that have grown rapidly in recent years. Large investments have been made and have been made on infrastructure, including a number of major roads have been built, while a new railway line is planned as well as two large hydropower plants.

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including UGA which represents the country of Uganda. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Uganda.

Also important are the money that Ugandans living abroad send home. In 2014, it was about $ 900 million. Tourism to Uganda has also increased rapidly, bringing in about $ 1.4 billion in 2013/2014. In recent years, growth has largely been kept up with increased domestic demand for goods and services.

In 2009–2011, inflation reached double-digit figures and food and fuel price increases contributed to triggering popular protests in 2011. Since then, the Ugandan central bank has managed to bring inflation down to about 5 percent in 2013 and 2014.

Government spending is greater than income. In the 2015/2016 budget, the deficit was expected to land at 7 per cent of GDP, which was several percentage points more than in the previous year.

The Ugandan state has long had large external debts, but they were largely amortized through the debt-relief program for high-indebted poor countries (HIPC). The money Uganda saved in interest payments has, among other things, gone to education.

Foreign debt amounted to almost $ 4.4 billion in 2013 and in 2013/2014, the central government debt corresponded to just over one third of GDP.
There is a debate within the country about whether the government has allowed its debt to rise too much. In recent years, with future oil revenues as security, it has lent large sums to the infrastructure investments. The loan policy was seen as extra risky when the price of oil began to fall rapidly in the fall of 2014.

Uganda has had a deficit in trade with foreign countries for a number of years. Imports of goods and services have often been more than twice their exports during the 2010s.

Aid donors streamed in after Uganda’s successful reforms, but later a number of them have reduced their involvement due to problems with corruption and lack of democracy. Several major donor countries, but also the World Bank, cut down a large part of the support that went directly to the Ugandan state in connection with the tours around the new legislation against homosexuals. Some of that support was later resumed after the Constitutional Court annulled the law. In the early 2010s, the aid accounted for about one-fifth of the state budget.


GDP per person

US $ 643 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 27,477 million (2018)

GDP growth

6.1 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

24.2 percent (2018)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

8.3 percent (2018)

The service sector’s share of GDP

47.6 percent (2018)


3.2 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

41.4 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 11,189 million (2017)


Ugandan shilling

Merchandise exports

US $ 3,642 million (2018)


US $ 6 099 million (2018)

Current account

– US $ 2,565 million (2018)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

35 percent (2018)

Main export goods

coffee, fish, gold, tea

Largest trading partner

Kenya, Belgium, Netherlands, France, USA, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India



Treason charges against opposition leaders are released

Kizza Besigye is named presidential candidate for four opposition parties. A few months later, the Constitutional Court dismisses all charges against him for high treason (see October 2005), claiming that the state violated the Constitution when Besigye was simultaneously facing trial in a civil and military court.


Somali group takes on attacks

On July 11, two concerted suicide attacks in Kampala will be carried out, requiring at least 74 deaths and many injured. The deed is aimed at a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant in the middle of the World Cup finals. The militant Islamist group al-Shabaab from Somalia takes on the blame for the death. The group has threatened to carry out attacks in Uganda in revenge for the country having peacekeeping troops in Somalia.


Ministers accused of corruption

According to a parliamentary report leaked to the press in 2010, Vice President Gilbert Bukenya and several corruption ministers are being charged in connection with the Commonwealth Summit in Uganda 2007.


The government does not support a new bill

In January, Investment Minister Aston Kajara said the government might try to persuade the MEP to withdraw the bill on homosexuality, since there are already strict laws.

Uganda Economy Facts

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