Uganda economy: Key sectors, challenges and more

Uganda is a landlocked East African country that possesses a strong cultural history with some of the best well-kept environmental protection scenery in the world. The country has one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa and has since met the pace of increased development over time. 

Uganda currently has over 40 million people residing on 241,038 km2 of land and has a rich history of some of the best-kept traditions the African continent can brag about. Although having a struggling and unequal economy, the Ugandan economy still scores favourably well compared to Africa’s economic powers like Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa. 

This article brings to bear all there is to know about the economy of Uganda.

Biggest contributors to the Ugandan GDP

1. Agriculture

Agriculture plays a significant role in the overall development of Uganda. In 2022, Agriculture contributed to over 20% of the Ugandan total GDP. The investment opportunities in Uganda’s agricultural sector are ranked one of the highest on the African continent with durable lands, fertile soil, constant rainfalls and others. In 2021, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization claimed that the agricultural sector in Uganda is capable of feeding over 200 million people, that figure is five times the current Ugandan population. 

Nonetheless, Uganda’s agricultural sector is yet to be fully tapped, over 80% of the country’s land is arable and suited for agricultural activities, however, less than 30% is cultivated for farming. Also, unlike Kenya and Ethiopia, Uganda’s agricultural sector is mostly on a small-scale level with scattered small-scale farmers across the country’s rural areas. 

2. Industry

Surprising industry plays a significant role in the growth of the Ugandan economy. In 2022, the Ugandan industrial sector ranked second highest contributor to the Ugnadan GDP, second only to agriculture. The industrial sector currently contributes 27% to the GDP of Uganda. 

Manufacturing takes the lead with the highest contributor at over 15% followed by construction at over 6%, water at 2.3%, mining at 2% and electricity at 1.3%. The Ugandan agricultural sector has witnessed some excellent developments over the years. This has caused the economy to grow greatly according to continental standards.

3. Services

The Ugandan services sector contributes significantly to its GDP. The services are the highest contributing sector to the Ugandan economy. In 2022, services accounted for over 50% of the Ugandan GDP. The services sector in Uganda is a strongly growing sector that is predicted to control the employment sector, employing over 30% of the nation by 2025.

Sales and everyday trade account for a significant figure in the services sector in Uganda. The Ugandan Ministry of Trade has set up targets to have a seamless trade environment that is expected to generally improve the impact of doing business in Uganda. 

Key economic development initiatives

1. Infrastructure development

Infrastructure development plays a vital role in Uganda’s economic growth and regional integration. The government has made significant strides in expanding and upgrading transport networks, including roads, railways, and airports.

The construction of the Standard Gauge Railway, linking Uganda to neighbouring countries, holds immense potential for trade facilitation and boosting exports. 

2. Energy

Efficient energy infrastructure is crucial for industrialization and reducing the cost of doing business. Uganda is investing in hydropower projects such as the Isimba and Karuma dams to enhance energy generation capacity and decrease reliance on costly imported fuels.

Access to reliable and affordable electricity will stimulate economic activities and create employment opportunities across various sectors.

3. Trade

Trade impacts the Ugandan GDP greatly. About 6 in every ten Ugandans employed in the services sector is into trade, with a majority of this number at the small and medium scale trade level. It is undoubtedly clear that investing in trade means investing in the future of Uganda’s labour productivity and growth.

The Ugandan Ministry of Trade has set up campaigns to encourage trade amongst Ugandans and the general African continent as a whole. These steps seek to achieve a business-friendly environment that aids further trade and would see Uganda moving ahead to become one of the best parts of Africa for doing business in general. Policies are being put in place to also attract increased foreign investment into the country. 

Challenges in the Ugandan Economy

Undoubtedly, immense headway has been recorded within this industry; however present hindrances must first be tackled before maximizing its full potential can truly be attained. 

Challenges currently faced by industry players include a lack of accessible affordable financing options; unreliable or inefficient power supplies; as well as evident deficiencies within human resource capacities. Nonetheless, these challenges have not gone unnoticed by governing authorities who continue their efforts aimed at solving them through measures like expanding SMEs’ lending capabilities; improving power infrastructure provisions while also forging partnerships with relevant technical institutions for instilling specialized skill sets.

Notwithstanding advances, Uganda’s economy still confronts several difficulties that must be addressed to maintain long-term and equitable growth. Among the key challenges are high population growth, youth unemployment, corruption, and insufficient access to excellent education and healthcare. The government is dedicated to tackling these concerns through programmes like the National Development Plan, which emphasises job creation, human capital development, and good governance. Uganda has supported regional integration initiatives, joining the East African Community (EAC) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFTFTA) (AfCFTA). These measures facilitate intra-regional commerce, improve market access, and attract foreign investment. Uganda can diversify its economy and generate more chances for its inhabitants by exploiting these platforms.


The Ugandan economy is undoubtedly one of the major emerging markets to look out for with hopes placed on tourism, agriculture and the services industry. Continuous efforts by the Ugandan government have improved Uganda’s economic outlook with increased hopes by analysts.

The economy of Uganda is a highly diversified economy with each sector contributing significantly to it. It is believed that with the continuous efforts already put in place by the government and an increased will to improve greatly, Uganda can scale through to one of Africa’s largest economies in the future.

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Richard Okoroafor

Richard Okoroafor

Richard is a brilliant legal content writer who doubles as a finance lawyer. He brings his wealth of legal knowledge in corporate commercial transactions to bear, offering the best value that exceeds expectations.

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