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Updated 16 Jan 2021


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The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa and is the world's second-most populous landlocked country after Ethiopia.

Toward its southern border, Uganda incorporates a substantial portion of Lake Victoria, shared with Kenya and Tanzania. Its close proximity to the African ‘Great Lakes’ region and the Nile basin provides it with a warm, equatorial, climate.

The country’s official language is English, while Luganda and Swahili is also widely-spoken across the country. Several other languages are also spoken in Uganda, including Runyoro, Runyankole, Rukiga and Lango.

Despite its challenges, Uganda remains a leading exporter of refined mineral products and it’s expected to become a leading exporter of crude oil thanks to ongoing, particularly Russian, foreign invest in exploring the country’s oil reserves. Its untapped oil reserves are estimated at 3.5 billion barrels.

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Social overview


Uganda boasts an estimated population of nearly 38 million people (2015 estimate), with a corresponding population growth rate of 3.24%.

Its population is young, with the working-age population making up almost half of the population at around 18.5 million people.

Currently, only 18% of the country’s population reside in towns and cities, however, rapid urbanisation is happening throughout the country. The World Bank believes that capital city Kampala will become a megacity of more than 10 million people by 2040.

Public spending on health and education makes up a small percentage of GDP (2% and 3%, respectively, while formal health facilities are mostly provided by non-governmental organisations.

The main causes of death among adults in the country are Aids-related illnesses, tuberculosis, malaria and illnesses related to maternity. In an effort to improve its country’s health, the Ugandan government runs a comprehensive Aids information campaign for the general public.

Travelling to the country requires several precautionary measures be taken for cholera, diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, meningococcal, meningitis, rabies, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), typhoid and yellow fever. The World Health Organisation has also recommended vaccination against yellow fever.

Both primary and secondary schooling is free in Uganda, however, the public schooling system is under-resourced and ongoing teacher absenteeism means 40% of classes are regularly cancelled. The quality of education for primary, secondary and tertiary students is therefore poor, which can be frustrating if you seek to employ skilled Ugandans in your business.

The liberalisation of the country’s economy, under its government’s auspices, has resulted in a period of rapid and stable economic growth and the emergence of an increasingly educated and socially conscious middle-class of spenders.

Here are a few more social factors to consider in your Uganda business plan:

  • Uganda has one of the fastest-growing and most youthful populations in the world. The country’s population is expected to double by 2035
  • The growing population will provide benefits in the form of an expanding consumer market, a large working-age labour pool, a declining dependency ratio and reduction of age-related welfare
  • Expanding and improving the country’s infrastructure is required to grow the economy fast enough to accommodate the expanding labour force. The country’s rapidly growing population will put strain on social services, infrastructure and land resources



Uganda’s people
  • Population: 37 101 745
  • The population is young and the working-age population makes up almost half of the population at around 18.5 million.
  • Languages: English, Ganda and Swahili.
  • Both primary and secondary schooling is free. However, the public schooling system is under-resourced and teacher absenteeism means 40% of classes are cancelled.
Environmental overview

Uganda has a rich variety of wildlife and boasts 7 200km2 of national parks and game reserves, which offer extraordinary diversity of lakes, swamps, dense grassland, woodland, rolling plains, forests and mountains.

Environmental issues in Uganda include the draining of wetlands for agricultural use, overgrazing, soil erosion and deforestation, water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria and widespread animal poaching.

Uganda is party to international agreements on biodiversity, climate change (including the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change), desertification, endangered species, hazardous wastes, law of the sea, marine life conservation, ozone layer protection and wetlands conservation.

Here are a few more environmental challenges that you should consider before your expansion into Uganda:

  • It’s a landlocked country, but offers good access to a captive market that’s in need of affordable products and services
  • Rain falls mostly during the summer months, often in the form of thunderstorms. Winter is a dry season in the country
  • Its topography can make it difficult for Agri businesses to find suitable, accessible, farming land; however, mining operations can thrive in specific regions with an abundance of crude oil deposits
  • Crop failures, deforestation and soil erosion can be a challenge if you’re involved in Agri;
  • Water is available in abundance, however, infrastructure development around water delivery remains on the back burner.
The environment
  • Uganda has a rich variety of wildlife; it has 7 200 km of national parks and game reserves.
  • Significant environmental issues in Uganda include the draining of wetlands for agricultural use; overgrazing; soil erosion and deforestation; water hyacinth infestation in Lake Victoria; and widespread  animal poaching.
Technology overview

Due to the shortage of widespread Internet access, e-commerce is still relatively under-developed in Uganda. The country is currently implementing ICT-related initiatives in the following areas:

  • e-Infrastructure
  • e-Government
  • Technology-enhanced learning
  • e-Health
  • e-Commerce, and
  • ICT for rural development and entrepreneurship.

Under its five-year e-governance master plan, in partnership with a South Korean group, the Ugandan government is spending USD100 million to relieve the country’s shortage of bandwidth in the following phases:

  • The Ugandan government is currently building out its national data transmission backbone infrastructure (NBI). The NBI will extend high-speed broadband services across the country at reasonable rates. This will enable essential business functions such as video conferencing.
  • The NBI will support the roll-out of an e-government infrastructure (EGI) project that includes e-education and e-health programmes. The EGI is designed to reduce the cost of doing business in government, improve communication between government agencies and reduce the need for officials to commute for meetings, thereby increasing efficiency. The project will develop a national data centre and shared services for all ministries, departments and agencies that are currently operating independent IT platforms.
  • It is envisaged that the EGI project will help to raise the country’s e-governance rankings and streamline business operations. Currently, e-governance infrastructure is underdeveloped.

Uganda’s National Information Authority (NITA-U) recently launched a one-stop web portal, dubbed eCitizen, for its citizens and other individuals to access government services. The portal simplifies access to online services offered in government ministries, departments and agencies. The portal also allows access to various services such as e-tax, business registration, trading license registration and social security statements.

Users will be able to make online payments via the website using credit cards, mobile money or funds transfers from a bank. They will also be able to apply for services and monitor progress online.

The country’s telecommunications sector boasts some internationally owned operators that include MTN (South Africa), Uganda Telecom Limited (Libya), Airtel (India), Africell (Lebanon) and Smile (South Africa). Mobile cellular services are increasing rapidly and a big proportion of subscribers have multiple SIM cards as there are not enough fixed lines in the country.

Since 2008, banks have allowed mobile phone banking. Mobile money has become increasingly popular and is seen as a competitor to mainstream banks. Unfortunately, regulations are weak and many scam artists use mobile money to defraud citizens.

Mobile phone coverage extends to all main towns, but public phones are also available in most towns, and Internet cafes are found in most larger towns. The rapidly expanding use of cellular telephones and computers in Uganda presents opportunities for telephone or internet marketing.

Tech outlook
  • Investments are being made in infrastructure to migrate the country’s economy from an agrarian to a high-tech or knowledge-based one. This includes the establishment of the Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP).
  • The RSTP aims to attract foreign investment and help position the country as a premier location for research and development.
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