Uganda's Economic Overview
The global Corona Virus pandemic has, without exception, impacted lives and economic activity across the world. The pandemic has worsened the effects of climate change and the locust invasion that Uganda and the region had already been grappling with. Uganda has been reasonably successful in dealing with these emergencies.
These emergencies have adversely impacted the economy. The livelihoods of many Ugandans have been negatively affected with declining household incomes, and in some cases the loss of jobs and food insecurity. Economic activity has drastically declined, with reduced demand for agricultural produce, the disruption of input supplies to manufacturers, as well as a disruption of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) activities. Inflows of Foreign Direct Investment and remittances of Ugandans in the diaspora have also declined sharply.
The crises we have recently faced cannot, however, distract us from our long-term development strategy. These emergencies, indeed, present several lessons and opportunities that we have drawn on to craft the Economic Stimulus and Growth Strategy. These opportunities include the following:
1. The acceleration of our import substitution and export promotion strategy for a range of goods including medicines and other health products; and the products of agro-industrialization and light manufactures, which Uganda can produce with a comparative advantage;
2. Digitalization of many aspects of socio-economic activity to improve efficiency and reduce costs. This can be applied through e-Commerce; e-Government (including tele-conferencing, procurement and the dispensation of justice); e-Learning; robotic automation, artificial intelligence, cyber security and cloud computing; and digital marketing in tourism. This permits to fast-track implementation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR);
3. Strengthening contingency planning to mitigate the impact of disasters, and protect the most vulnerable persons;
4. Transforming Informality of doing business to being formal.
5. Reform of Urban Transport to reduce congestion, starting with the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area and eventually Regional Cities;
6. Domestic tourism stimulation to encourage many Ugandan residents to explore local touristic destinations.
Uganda Government will therefore seize these opportunities and continue on the path to developing an integrated, self-sustaining economy as laid out in the NRM Ten Point Programme. Uganda will also actively promote the development of African and global markets to enable access by Uganda entrepreneurs. Government shall therefore profitably add value to the range of agricultural products and minerals that Uganda is endowed with, as guided by H.E. the President in the State of Nation Address for FY 2021.
Uganda shall build a strong and durable economy addressing the eight fundamental human needs namely; Food, Clothing, Shelter, Defence, Human Resource Development (Health and Education), infrastructure (electricity, roads, rail, ICT, Telecoms), and Spirituality. This will establish a firm basis for Service industries such as tourism, hospitality (hotels, bars, night clubs, casinos, etc) as well as entertainment (concerts, sports, etc) to flourish.
PROGRESS IN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
Government has taken great strides to establish a strong foundation for economic and social transformation over the last five years during the implementation of the Second National Development Plan (NDPII). The strong foundation we see today has built the resilience we can see in the face of emergencies that we have recently faced. some of the achievements that have been registered are highlighted below:-
The Uganda economy has continued to grow, despite the effects of the recent emergencies we have faced. Uganda’s GDP in the year 2019/20 is estimated to amount to U. Shs. 138 Trillion. The economy is estimated to grow by 3.1 percent this financial year ending 30th June 2020, slower than the average growth rate of 5.4 percent in the previous four years. Had it not been the emergencies we have faced, the rate of economic growth would have been at least 6 percent per annum.
The Agriculture sector grew by 4.2 percent up from 3.8 percent in the previous four years. However, Industry grew by only 2.3 percent compared to an annual average of 7 percent in the previous four years. Services grew by 3.6 percent over the year compared to the annual average of 5.6 percent in the previous four years. These statisticsdemonstrate the effect of the recent emergencies that the country has faced. Despite the temporary shocks the medium term outlook for economic growth is positive and will be stronger given the measures we will implement.
Substantial progress has been made in Primary Production. The Agriculture sector plays a central role in Uganda’s economy. It accounts for 45 percent of exports, and employs 64 percent of all Ugandans and 72 percent of all youths, thus its importance to influencing household incomes. Primary production of commodities has increased significantly. Coffee production increased from 5.7 million 60-kg bags to 7 million bags between 2017 and 2019. Fish catches have grown from 391,000 Metric Tons to 561,000 Metric Tons between 2017 and 2019. This was largely as a result of the strict enforcement of fisheries regulations and addressing challenges of poor quality fingerlings and limited access to feeds. A total of 13,800 acres of sugar cane have also been established at the Atiak Sugar Factory in Northern Uganda and more is planned when the Amuru project starts.
Human Capital Development
The wellbeing of Ugandans has also improved significantly over the years. For instance:-
1. The literacy rate of Ugandans in 2018 increased to 74 percent of all adults compared to 72 percent in 2014;
2. Maternal mortality has reduced to 336 per 100,000 births from 438 per 100,000 births in 2011; and under-five child mortality has reduced to 64 per 1,000 births from 137 per 1,000 births in 2011.
3. Access to safe water in rural areas today is at 69 percent increasing from 65 percent in 2015; with 38,500 villages representing 66 percent of the total 58,000 villages in the country having been provided clean water.
4. Access to safe water in urban areas stands at 79 percent, compared to 77 percent in 2015, with the piped water main network increasing from 17,600 Kilometres to 20,200 Kilometres. Over 66,000 new customers were connected during the year, bringing the total number of connections to over 720,000v. Rural sanitation coverage is at 79 percent; while sanitation in urban areas increased to 87 per cent.
Power: Uganda continues to make long strides in developing Economic Infrastructure. Witness this:-Electricity generation capacity now stands at 1,254 Megawatts, with the completion of the 42 Mega Watt Agago-Achwa II, the 76 Mega Watt Kyambura and the 5.9 Mega Watt Ndugutu Power projects. The 183 Mega Watt Isimba Power Project and its transmission lines was commissioned and the 600 Mega Watt Karuma Power Project is 98 percent complete and was due for commissioning in November 2020. The Karuma -Kawanda Transmission Line is also 82 percent complete. Construction of Nyagak IIIPower Project also resumed in May 2019.
The electrification of industrial parks has also progressed with the commissioning of the Mukono and Iganga Industrial Parks sub-stations. Under the Rural Electrification programme, 14,820 kilometres of medium-voltage power lines and 10,280 kilometres of low voltage distribution power lines have been constructed. Since Government launched the free Electricity Connections Policy in November 2018, 277,500 rural households have been connected with a target to connect 300,000 rural households annually.
Transport: Transport infrastructure has improved considerably with the stock of the paved national road network today totalling 5,600 kilometres increasing from 4,300 Kilometres in 2015. The meter gauge railway network is under rehabilitation. The railway currently facilitates transportation of 18,000 tons of cargo monthly, and 2,000 passengers daily in order to support decongestion in Greater Kampala. In the air transport sector, thirteen (13) aerodromes have been rehabilitated countrywide and the expansion of the Entebbe International and the construction of the Kabaale International Airports are progressing as scheduled. Uganda Airlines is revived and began operations during the month of August 2019.
Information and Communication Technology: ICT services have also performed well over the period. Internet users have increased from 7.5 million in 2016 to 11 million in March 2020. Total telephone subscriptions, of which mobile connections constitute 60 percent, increased from 21 million in 2016 to 28million in January 2020. The value of Mobile money transactions increased from 3.4 Trillion in 2016 to 7.2 Trillion in March 2020.
The National Backbone Infrastructure now covers forty-nine (49) districts, 480 Ministries, Agencies and Local Governments, and 7 border posts. The monthly average unit cost of internet bandwidth for One Megabite per second (1Mbps) on the Backbone has reduced from $300 to US$70. The 500-seater ICT Innovation Hub at Nakawa was also completed during the year. Furthermore, one hundred seventy two (172) ICT Innovators were supported under the National ICT Initiatives Programme (NIISP) to develop e-Solutions. Some of their software applications have been used for business continuity during the Corona Virus lockdown.
Posta Uganda launched Community Information Centres in Kitgum, Kasese, Moroto and Mubende to enhance provision of information on government services and programs. Posta Uganda also successfully implemented the International Postal System (IPS) at Forty-eight 48 District Post Offices, enabling improvement in international and national operational efficiency in timely exchange of post.
Science, Technology and Innovation: In the Science, Technology and Innovation Sector, core projects have, too progressed well. For example, the Machining Manufacturing and Industrial Skills Training Centre (MMISTC) at Namanve was commissioned in January 2020. The centre will provide industrial skills training and apprenticeship, andmanufacture high quality precision machine parts and accessories.
The first phase of the construction of the Kiira Vehicle Plant at the Jinja Industrial Park is 50 percent complete, and two (2) Kayoola Electric Buses have since been developed, assembled and tested under a Technology Transfer project with China High-Tech Corporation.
To improve urban security, Phase One of the Safe City CCTV project has been rolled out in Kampala Metropolitan, Wakiso, Mukono & Entebbe. Crime surveillance has also been enhanced with the deployment of LDUs across the country. The UPF also conducted Electronic Profiling of guns which will help to curb gun-related crimes. Consequently, crime levels reduced by 9.8% from 238,746 cases reported in 2018 to 215,224 cases in 2019.
To increase access to justice Government has established One Stop Justice Law and Order Sector Centres, each consisting of a court, and Police services, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Prison Reception centres, Probation and Community Services, in 84 districts across the country. In addition, plea bargaining was instituted to decongest court and improve the court efficiency. Consequently, cases aged over 3 years old have reduced from 24% in 2017 to 17% in 2019. 25. To improve public service delivery, systems across Government have been developed and integrated as follows:-
1. The e-visa/works permits systems and the integrated Border Management System is now operational at 11 border posts and was extended to 17 Uganda Missions abroad that can issue visas to intending visitors. Consequently,average monthly visa applications have increased from 4,500 applications in 2016 to 12,700 applications in 2019;
2. Electronic-passports have been integrated with the National Identification and Registration Agency (NIRA) register leading to a reduction inpassport issuance from 10 working days in 2016 to 4 working days today;
3. Business registration now takes four hours; and
4. Service Uganda Centres have been established at 18 Zonal Offices to eliminate bureaucracy and reduce cost of doing business.
This socio-economic progress provides an underlying resilience to Uganda’s economy, which has enabled Uganda to withstand the temporary disruption of the Corona Virus pandemic, the locust invasion, and the effects of Climate Change.
For more details on the status of Uganda's economy, please, visit the official web site of Uganda's Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.