Economy - overview: Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing more than one-third of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Uganda has a small industrial sector that is dependent on imported inputs like oil and equipment. Overall productivity is hampered by a number of supply-side constraints, including underinvestment in an agricultural sector that continues to rely on rudimentary technology. Industrial growth is impeded by high-costs due to poor infrastructure, low levels of private investment, and the depreciation of the Ugandan shilling.
Since 1986, the government - with the support of foreign countries and international agencies - has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages. The policy changes were especially aimed at dampening inflation while encouraging foreign investment to boost production and export earnings. Since 1990, economic reforms ushered in an era of solid economic growth based on continued investment in infrastructure, improved incentives for production and exports, lower inflation, and better domestic security.
The global economic downturn in 2008 hurt Uganda's exports; however, Uganda's GDP growth has recovered due to past reforms and a rapidly growing urban consumer population. Oil revenues and taxes are expected to become a larger source of government funding as production starts in the next five to 10 years. However, lower oil prices since 2014 and protracted negotiations and legal disputes between the Ugandan government and oil companies may prove a stumbling block to further exploration and development.
Uganda faces many economic challenges. Instability in South Sudan has led to a sharp increase in Sudanese refugees and is disrupting Uganda's main export market. High energy costs, inadequate transportation and energy infrastructure, insufficient budgetary discipline, and corruption inhibit economic development and investor confidence. Between 2015 and 2017, the Uganda shilling depreciated 50% against the dollar.
The budget is dominated by energy and road infrastructure spending, while relying on donor support for long-term drivers of growth, including agriculture, health, and education. The largest infrastructure projects are externally financed through low-interest concessional loans. As a result, debt servicing for these loans is expected to rise.
Definition: This entry briefly describes the type of economy, including the degree of market orientation, the level of economic development, the most important natural resources, and the unique areas of specialization. It also characterizes major economic events and policy changes in the most recent 12 months and may include a statement about one or two key future macroeconomic trends.
Source: CIA World Factbook - This page was last updated on January 20, 2018