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Country Political Context
Uganda is a multiparty democracy albeit with its shortcomings. The country is peaceful and experiencing some level of prosperity. Urban centers have rapidly grown up as points for commerce and Agro-processing.
The Ugandan economy has been rapidly growing as well as structurally changing though slowly from an agrarian to an industrial orientation. Annual growth in the economy has averaged an impressive rate of 6.9% per year, far above the Sub-Sahara average of 2.4%. The share contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from 11 to 20% for industry in general and from 6 to 10% for manufacturing in particular.
The key issues of significance that have evolved over this period include the following among others;
- Slow growth of Uganda’s manufacturing sector in particular and industry as a whole, below the sub-Saharan average over the 15 years;
- Energy inadequacy and high pricing as an impairment to growth of the manufacturing sector in particular and industry as a whole;
- Low economic competitiveness of Uganda economy in attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to boost industrial growth;
- Continued export of un-processed primary products
The need for policy interventions resulted in the formulation and promulgation of the National Industrial Policy 2008. The policy vision and objectives underlying this policy will be fully realized over the medium to long term period of 10 years with the following desired outcomes;
- 25% contribution of manufactured products to total GDP.
- 30% contribution of manufactured exports to total exports
- 30% value added in industry (as a percentage of GDP)
- 2 score – Competitive Index
However, the Ugandan economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture (29%). The role of industry in the national economy remains small (24.8%). The mainstay of the economy, agriculture, remains overwhelmingly subsistence, not providing the impetus desired for stimulating the growth of value addition or processing industries.
Uganda’s industrial contribution to GDP is still very low and the economy is still largely dependent on imported consumer and industrial intermediate and investment goods.
The primary growth sectors, (sectors and sub-sectors that directly produce goods and services) include agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, tourism, mining, oil, gas, information and communication technologies and housing development. The performance of these sectors has been varying (Table 3). Table 6 presents the share of primary growth sectors in GDP at current prices. Added value in agriculture and industry need to become engines of growth but the agriculture sector has been declining in its growth rate and share of GDP and the industry sector has not been expanding at a notable rate. While there has been growth in hotels, restaurants (tourism), and communications, these are not yet significant sectors in terms of GDP.
The NDP, launched in 2008 also presents a medium term blue print for spurring economic activity in the country. The NDP addresses structural bottlenecks in the economy in order to accelerate social economic transformation for prosperity. The recently mooted construction of up to 15 markets along Uganda’s border posts is an added opportunity for this project under government enabling environment. The NDP interventions aim at creating employment, raising average per capita income levels, improving the labor force distribution in line with sectoral GDP shares, raising country human development and gender equality indicators and improving the country’s competitiveness.
Government’s efforts are directed towards transforming Uganda from a predominantly peasant-based economy to a just, peaceful and prosperous middle-income country. During the NDP medium term, the investment priorities will include; physical infrastructure development mainly energy, railways, waterways and air transport.
Facilitation of availability and access to vital production inputs in Agriculture and promotion of SMEs especially those geared toward Agro-processing is a key focus of the NDP’s priorities with respect to promotion of productive sectors of the economy.
Uganda’s business environment is private sector friendly. Government views the free enterprise system as the key to economic growth and development. This is the underlying spirit of the East African Community. The East African Community (EAC) has made progress seeking convergence with respect to having a common policy action in managing various sectors of the national economies of the member countries.
The East African Common Market has considerable economic potential as a regional bloc with a combined population of 80 million, a land area of 1.8 million square kilometers, common languages such as English and Kiswahili and large amounts of natural resources, including minerals, water, energy, forestry and wildlife.
The Uganda government’s fiscal and monetary policy focus is on ensuring a stable environment in terms of low inflation through a tight monetary policy and a disciplined fiscal policy in which the private sector can operate unimpeded. The foreign exchange is liberal allowing exchange rates to be driven by market forces of demand and supply and the repatriation of profits from Uganda is allowed.
Inflation– The Annual Inflation for Food dropped to 10.6 percent for the year ending August 2017 compared to 10.8 percent recorded for the year ended July 2017. The drop was due to a decline in Annual Food Inflation to 11.2 percent for the year ending August 2017 compared to the 11.5 percent recorded during the year ended July 2017. The Monthly Inflation for Food rose by 0.7 percent for the month of August 2017 from the 1.5 percent decrease recorded for July 2017. The increase was due to Food inflation that recorded 0.7 percent in August 2017 from the 1.6 percent drop recorded in July 2017.
Exchange Rates– The exchange rates Uganda Shilling to the dollar rose from UGX 3,404.86 end of period 2015/16 to UGX 3,590.90 end of period 2016/2017.
Interest Rates – Bank of Uganda rediscount rate fell from 19% (July 2016) to 14% (July 2017). Over the same period of time the commercial bank lending and the Central Bank for the same period fell from 15% to 10%.
www.ubos.org/Consumer Price Index – August, 2017
 Bank of Uganda Monthly Economic and Fin. Indicators – August, 2017