Overview

Economic Overview

Uganda’s economy has grown at a slower pace recently thus reducing its impact on poverty. Average annual growth was 4.5% in the five years to FY16, compared to the 7 %achieved during the 1990s and early 2000s. The economy has since faced headwinds, including adverse weather, the civil unrest in South Sudan, global economic uncertainties, and private sector credit constraints.

As the economy becomes more resilient and election-related uncertainties recede, the economy is expected to grow at 4%–5% during FY17 as the impact of the drought recedes, distress from the banking system distress is contained, and the execution of the public projects improves. This rate of growth is expected to accelerate to about 5.1% in FY18, and average 5.6% in FY19. In the short term, large public sector infrastructure projects will continue to be the main driver of economic activity, partly on account of the accelerated development and construction of oil-related infrastructure.

The country’s economic growth faces a number of risks: delayed completion of the massive public infrastructure program; regional instability; global uncertainty; and credit market constraints. The weather- and climate-related changes are also a source of vulnerability for agriculture, and a further slow-down in the Chinese economy could adversely impact Uganda’s investments in infrastructure. The risk of debt distress remains low with the present value of public debt at 36% of GDP.

Political Context

Following the end of the armed conflict in 1986, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) led by President Yoweri Museveni introduced a number of structural reforms and investments, which led to a sustained period of high growth and poverty reduction between 1987 and 2010. With ambitious public sector reforms introduced in the past two decades, the last three years have seen an improvement in government effectiveness. But voice and accountability, which improved between 2003 and 2008, have declined. Policy and legal frameworks continue to improve, notably through the Public Financial Management Act (2015), although gaps in implementation in procurement and anti-corruption remain. 

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

Development Challenges

Uganda surpassed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets by halving poverty by 2015, and made significant progress in reducing the proportion of the population that suffers from hunger, as well as in promoting gender equality and empowering women. According to the Uganda Poverty Assessment, the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty (on less than $1.90 a day) fell from 62.2% in 2002/2003 to 34.6% in FY13, representing the second fastest reduction in poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using the national poverty line (less than $1.25 a day), the incidence of poverty declined from 56.4%in 1993 to 19.7% in 2013. Good weather and favorable prices in the international and regional markets increased real income from crops, allowing agricultural households to account for up to 79% of the poverty reduction during this period. Other key contributing factors include urbanization and education.

Notwithstanding this progress, vulnerability to falling back into poverty is very high—for every three Ugandans who get out of poverty, two fall back in, demonstrating the fragile gains. Extreme poverty is concentrated in the north and east of the country, accounting for 84% of those beneath the national poverty line.

Following weak and late rains in 2016, the country experienced an acute food shortage, and up to 1.6 million people were food insecure and a further 9.3 million were reported to be food stressed, according to a National Food Security Assessment survey supported by the Bank.

Uganda is now the largest refugee hosting country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees, according to a March 2017 update from the UN Refugee Agency. On average, the country receives 2,218 refugees daily, and a further 500,000 could arrive during 2017.

World Bank Group Engagement

The World Bank Group (WBG) Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for the period 2015/16 to 2020/21 supports the government’s vision of a society transformed from a peasant economy to a modern and prosperous country by 2040. The CPF has been prepared in close collaboration with the government, and is informed by consultations with civil society, private sector, academia, development partners, and the public. It recognizes the dynamic between rural and urban development where, in the short run, poverty reduction will come from rural areas. The focus in the medium term will shift towards urbanization and the creation of jobs for a rapidly growing labor force.

The investment portfolio in Uganda is primarily financed from the WBG’s International Development Association (IDA), which provides interest free “credits” and grants on concessional terms, attracting only an administrative service charge of 0.75% on the disbursed credit amount. Loan repayments are stretched over 38 years, including a six-year grace period.

As of March 2017, the Bank’s portfolio stood at $2.46 billion (credits and grants) in net commitment for national and regional operations. Around two thirds is supporting sustainable development, including 46% to infrastructure development (energy, roads, urban, and ICT), followed by agriculture (14%), and water (7%). Close to 30% is supporting human development (health 11%, education 9%, and social protection 7%); and the private sector and trade (5%). As of February 2017, disbursement stood at 10% with an undisbursed balance of $1.7 billion. On 22 August 2016, the Bank decided to withhold new lending to Uganda while working closely with the government to address performance, including delays in project effectiveness, weaknesses in safeguards-monitoring and enforcement, and low disbursement. All projects approved by the Board before August 2016 are not affected by this decision. 

By receiving feedback from citizens, and by working closely with the government, stakeholders, and partners, the WBG is in a strong position to contribute toward shared prosperity and reducing extreme poverty in Uganda. Questions are welcome and can be forwarded to ugandainfo@worldbank.org

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP): The project has supported land administration reform, and piloted the mass titling of land in selected regions. Some 13 regional land offices have been established, which have enabled more people to register and title their land, increasing their security of tenure and allowing landowners to use their land as an asset to access credit. The project also supported the digitization of existing land titles (more than 500,000 titles) and reduced the average time it takes to register it to within 42 days, down from 52 days in 2012. Digitization has increased government revenue from land registration by 308%. Monthly collections from land revenue has more than quadrupled over three years—from US$740,000 (2013) to approximately $3.5m (2015).

Uganda Support for Municipal Development Project (USMID): The 14 municipalities benefitting from the project have been supported to develop modern infrastructure, including roads and related furniture; solid waste management; and the development of markets and urban transport facilities.  Local government officials in all 14 municipalities have received training in municipal management, including physical planning and urban development, source revenue, and procurement and contract management. Computerized equipment for physical planning has been installed in 13 municipalities.

Private Sector Competitiveness Project II: The project has facilitated the recruitment of a secretariat to support business licensing under the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Uganda Investment Climate Program. Key results include: reducing trading license time from 15 to four days, and the reduction of fees by 25%. This reform led to annual private sector cost savings in excess of $2.5 million.

Health Systems Strengthening Project: Eight of nine hospitals have been renovated. Scholarships have been provided to 797 health workers with most of the beneficiaries pursuing diplomas, and more than 400 completing their studies. As many as 230 health facilities countrywide have received medical equipment, and an e-recruitment job bureau at the Health Service Commission has been set up.

East Africa Public Health Laboratory Project:  The Uganda National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory was supported to reach the gold standard ISO accreditation, and to qualify to serve as a prestigious WHO Supranational Referral Laboratory, the second of its kind on the continent. The 2014 Ebola outbreak highlighted major gaps in disease prevention and control in health systems across East Africa.

Second Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF2): NUSAF is a community-driven development project, now in its third phase (NUSAF3). A total of 10,519 community-owned sub-projects were supported over a five-year period, exceeding the originally planned 9,750 sub-projects. To prevent corruption and the mismanagement of project funds, NUSAF2 worked with the Inspectorate of Government to design the Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption (TAAC) initiative implemented by a consortium of NGOs, which successfully piloted Social Accountability and Community Monitoring within the project areas. The TAAC initiative, which cost $2 million, facilitated the 100% accountability of funds disbursed to community sub-projects, making NUSAF2 the largest and one of the most successful community-driven projects ever undertaken in Uganda.

Kampala Institutional and Infrastructure Development Project (KIIDP): Institutional efficiency has been registered by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) through a reduction of liabilities, an increase in KCCA own-source revenue, and an increased share of own-source revenue spent on service delivery. The Kira Road and Yusuf Lule-Acacia main junctions have been expanded and equipped to regulate traffic and improve the safety of both motorists and pedestrians.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017

The International Finance Corporation (IFC)

As of December 2017, the IFC had commitments totaling to $295.7 million, of which $269.7 million was disbursed and outstanding, mainly in infrastructure. The IFC’s strategy in Uganda is harmonized with the WBG’s approach as outlined in the FY16-21 Country Partnership Framework (CPF). In line with this, the IFC, through investment and advisory interventions, is developing projects in infrastructure and the oil sector. The IFC has worked closely with the Bank and MIGA on private power generation and distribution projects, and continues to collaborate closely within the WBG on renewable energy.

Since the 1960s, the IFC has approved funding for more than 50 projects in Uganda amounting to $1.5 billion. These investments have boosted the power supply, increased farmers’ revenues, and supported small and medium enterprises. The IFC’s advisory services focus on business environment, health, education, housing finance, and infrastructure.

Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA)

MIGA’s portfolio has a combined gross exposure of $146.2 million primarily focusing on guarantees covering investments in energy infrastructure. MIGA also supported Sithe Global (USA) with guarantees of $120 million covering its equity investment in Bujagali Energy Ltd.

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017


LENDING

Uganda: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments

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