Uganda Industry

Uganda’s industry has grown rapidly since the beginning of the 1990s and in 2013 accounted for about a quarter of GDP. The industry mainly deals with the processing of agricultural products. Almost all production takes place for the domestic market, although some exports to Congo-Kinshasa and South Sudan.

The industry is concentrated to Kampala and Jinja. The largest industrial group is the Madhvani Group, which is involved in a number of industries, from brewery operations to the composition of TV sets. Nowadays, virtually the entire industry is privately owned.

There are several so-called export zones where companies are offered favorable terms. Most of them are engaged in the manufacture of textiles and clothing.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Uganda. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.

Foreign trade

Uganda has long had a deficit in its foreign trade. The deficit is covered by aid and loans. Uganda is part of the Customs Union of the East African Community and exports to the other Member States are steadily increasing.


More than 40 percent of exports are coffee, tea and other agricultural commodities. For many years, coffee accounted for almost all exports, but its share of exports has gradually declined since the 1990s. Simpler industrial goods and various minerals are other important export goods. Uganda primarily imports vehicles, oil products and chemicals.

Much of the exports go to neighboring countries China, Congo-Kinshasa and Sudan. South Sudan has also become increasingly important export markets, although much of this export is outside the control of the authorities. Important importing countries are India, China, Kenya and the United Arab Emirates. Oil and petroleum products account for almost a quarter of imports.

Uganda also has a large current account deficit, despite the fact that Ugandans working abroad send home large sums (see also Economic overview).


Merchandise exports

US $ 3,642 million (2018)


US $ 6 099 million (2018)

Current account

– US $ 2,565 million (2018)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

35 percent (2018)

Main export goods

coffee, fish, gold, tea

Largest trading partner

Kenya, Belgium, Netherlands, France, USA, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, India


Uganda’s landscape, vegetation and wildlife attract many tourists. The country has ten national parks, among them the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where almost half of the world’s mountain gorillas live. The mountain gorillas are threatened with extinction and in 2011 it is estimated that there are about 880 mountain gorillas left, of which about 400 in Bwindi. The park has East Africa’s richest animal and plant life and is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Despite a lot of lakes, there are hardly any bathing places; In all lakes, the worm car biliary causes the tropical disease seashell fever.

During the 1990s, tourism regained its place as the country’s second most important source of foreign currency after agriculture. The number of visitors has increased steadily, from about 200,000 at the turn of the millennium to just over 1, 2 million 13 years later.


Number of foreign visitors per year

1 323 000 (2016)

tourist revenue

768,000,000 US dollars (2016)

The share of tourist income from exports

17.1 percent (2016)



Opposition leaders return

David Sejusa (see May 2013) returns to Uganda from exile in the UK. His return must have been preceded by secret negotiations between him and the government. According to information in the journal Africa Confidential, Sejusa is believed to have been promised amnesty for himself and his imprisoned supporters in exchange for him to stop criticizing the government in public. He should also have been offered a pension from the military.

Meanwhile in exile, Sejusa has founded a new party, Freedom and Unity Front Parties (FUFP).

The President calls for a boycott of the ICC

After the legal process against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta in the International Criminal Court (ICC) was closed in early December (see Kenya: Current Policy), President Museveni says he will try to convince all African countries to leave the ICC. He claims that the ICC is being used as a tool against the African continent.


Further corruption charges

Mbabazi has been accused of part in a corruption scandal, even though he claims his innocence. But there is also talk of a power struggle between him and the president. Mbabazi is said to have had an unofficial agreement with Museveni that he should become NRM’s presidential candidate in the 2016 election. But the president has instead decided to stand for re-election.

The Prime Minister is dismissed

President Museveni dismisses Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who until now belonged to his inner circle. He had previously been appointed Secretary General of the NRM. Mbabazi is replaced by Ruhakana Rugunda, who was previously Minister of Health.

Suspicious attack planners are arrested

Authorities arrest 19 people accused of planning an attack in Kampala and several other Ugandan cities. Large quantities of explosives must have been seized. The arrested suspects belong to al-Shabaab.


South Sudanese flee to Uganda

The unrest in South Sudan drives people on the run, many of whom go to Uganda (see also Population and Languages).


Laws against homosexuality are rejected

The Constitutional Court rejects the law on stricter penalties for “homosexual acts” adopted by Parliament in 2013 (see December 2013 and February 2014). The Court ruled that the law did not apply because there were not enough MEPs present when the law was passed in Parliament.

Many dead in armed attack

Nearly 100 people are killed when armed men attack police stations and military depots in western Uganda near the Congo-Kinshasa border. Police say the attack is about riots between different groups of people, but suspicions also fall on ADF-Nalu.

UN sanctions against rebel movement

UN introduces sanctions against Ugandan rebel movement Allied Democratic Forces-Nalu (ADF-Nalu) with reference to kidnapping and recruiting children as soldiers in Congo-Kinshasa, Uganda and Tanzania (see also Political system). ADF-Nalu is also accused of killing and mutilating people and of gross sexual violence against women and children.

Struggles between Ugandan troops and rebels

Ugandan troops kill 15 Séléka rebels in fighting in the eastern part of the Central African Republic (see Central African Republic: Calendar). The Ugandan force is in the country to fight the LRA guerrillas with the support of US special forces. After the fighting, a spokesman for the Ugandan military says it now sees Séléka as its enemy as the rebel movement forces the civilian population to assist the LRA with food and medicines and helps the LRA trade in ivory and minerals.


US sanctions

The United States announces that it intends to impose sanctions on Uganda in protest of the laws against homosexuals. Among other things, some government representatives are no longer allowed to enter the United States. In addition, part of US aid is withdrawn.

UN appointment draws criticism

Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa is appointed chairman of the UN General Assembly. This provokes criticism because of Uganda’s harsh laws on homosexuality and the role Kutesa played in developing them.



Organization requires the repeal of the law on homosexuality

The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which represents fifty groups, is turning to the Constitutional Court in mid-month to have the law repealed with the reference that it violates the rights of gay people and subject them to cruel and inhuman treatment

Soldiers are called home

In mid-March, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa announces that the Ugandan soldiers will gradually be taken home from South Sudan in April. He denies that the decision was influenced by external pressure (see February 2014).

Additional contributions withdrawn

Media reports on increased violence against homosexuals. Sweden also decides not to pay planned aid to Uganda of just over SEK 6 million.


Uganda is urged to withdraw troops

Uganda is under pressure from Ethiopia, the Igad cooperation organization and the United States to withdraw its troops from South Sudan.

Assistance is restructured according to new law

Norway and Denmark say that they should now send money directly to aid organizations instead of to the government. The World Bank decides to wait to pay out $ 90 million in health care until it is seen how the new law will affect operations.

Laws against homosexuality are supported by the president

Museveni says he will sign the new law on higher penalties for homosexuality (see also Social conditions). He says he has changed his position because, according to him, there is no evidence that homosexuality has “genetic or natural” causes. The national expert group of doctors, scientists and politicians appointed by the president states in his statement that homosexuality is not a disease, but it does not make any recommendations on how he should act. US President Barack Obama says relations between the US and Uganda will be complicated if the Ugandan president approves the law. Criticism also comes from the EU.

At the end of the month, Museveni signs the controversial law. A section saying that it should be punishable not to report crimes related to homosexuality to the authorities has now been removed. Shortly thereafter, the magazine Red Pepper publishes the names of 200 people who it identifies as gay under the heading “Revealed”.


Troops to South Sudan

Uganda officially admits that the country sent large troops to South Sudan in mid-December 2013 (see Foreign Policy and Defense). Uganda’s parliament votes on January 14 to subsequently approve the sending of troops to the neighboring country.

Uganda Industry

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