Uganda Economy Overview

Uganda Economy and History


During the English domination the possibilities of Uganda were not particularly appreciated; however, in the years preceding independence, the Ugandan economy was more integrated with those of the other colonies in East Africa. The country was equipped with new infrastructures, mining exploitation began, plantation agriculture received greater impulses and an initial industrialization process was also initiated. After independence (1962), the government’s economic policy tried to reconcile the state initiative with the private one in the industrial sector, while in the agricultural sector the formation of cooperatives was advocated supported by the necessary technical assistance and financial aid from the Great Britain. Amin Dada; he remained in office from 1971 to 1979, causing very serious situations in every productive sector of the country. Already in 1972 Amin Dada, who had declared the “economic war” for the liberation of Uganda from foreign domination, decreed the immediate expulsion of Europeans and Asians (on which the fundamental productive activities depended: plantation agriculture, trade and industry) followed by the confiscation of their assets and the nationalization of all foreign properties. Naturally, the flow of foreign capital ceased and international exchanges were reduced to a minimum, particularly in the years of the most acute tension, in which the borders with Kenya were closed (1976-77). The dissolution, in 1977, of the East African Community it was another severe blow to Uganda’s economy, whose limited internal capacities and insufficient organizational structure were increasingly emerging. Starting in 1986, with the victory of the National Resistance Movement (MRN), Uganda experienced gradual improvements: thanks to the support of international funding, a growing liberalization of economic activities was undertaken with many privatizations of state-owned enterprises, a redevelopment of the infrastructure of basis and a policy of containing inflation. And so from the early nineties the economy started to grow again; GNP rises at a sustained rate (and GDP was US $ 14,529 million in 2008) also thanks to the decisive help of international capital that flowed in after the conversion to the market economy; inflation is falling. Despite this, the economy, still in a phase of development, remains eminently agricultural; Furthermore, it should be noted that there has not yet been a real change in the living conditions of the population: 35% of the residents are below the poverty line and the GDP per capita is among the lowest in the world: US $ 453 in 2008. In 2005, the IMF and the World Bank canceled the country’s debt.


According to Cheeroutdoor, the primary sector is by far the backbone of the Ugandan economy: it participates in the formation of GDP for approx. 22.9% of the total and employs over 73.3% of the active population. Agriculture is clearly divided between the sector that produces for internal sustenance and that which is at the service of exports. Subsistence agriculture has long suffered from the contradictory initiatives taken at the time of Amin Dada; mechanization and use of fertilizers are still scarce. Cereals form the basis of food; as often in Africa, poor cereals prevail, which are satisfied with poorly fertile soils, such as millet and sorghum, followed by maize and rice. Cassava and sweet potato crops are also widespread, potatoes, various legumes and vegetables, as well as bananas and other tropical fruit. Commercial agriculture is primarily based on coffee, of which Uganda is among the top ten exporters and producers in the world. Tea is also exported, whose cultivation has resumed after the disastrous results of the nationalization of the plantations wanted by Amin Dada, cotton, tobacco, sesame, peanut and sugar cane. § Woods and forests cover approx. 20% of the national territory and constitute a good resource for the country producing mahogany, other precious essences and modest quantities of rubber. § The breeding, present in backward and not particularly profitable forms, mainly concerns cattle that are however cyclically affected by trypanosomiasis, the terrible disease spread by the tsé-tsé fly; they are widespread especially in the northern areas and the pastures are controlled to prevent the excessive depletion of the vegetation and the degradation of the soils. In the savannas there are also sheep and goats; reared almost everywhere are poultry. § Fishing is an important activity, especially for the coastal populations of Lake Victoria.


Post- Acheulean industries of the Sangoan type, dating from approximately 100,000 to 80,000 years from now, have been gathered in the Kagera River Valley and Sango Bay on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria. Al Lupembiano, facies dated to ca. 40,000 / 38,000 years, materials from the terraces of the Kagera River near Nsongezi are reported. Industries with the presence of microliths dated to ca. 16,000 years from now have been reported on Buvuma Island (Lake Victoria). A microlithic facies with geometrics is documented in the same valley, juxtaposed with the Wiltonian but difficult to ascribe chronologically.

Uganda Economy Overview

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