In recent decades, Uganda has sought to reduce extreme poverty, combat infectious diseases and boost education for children and adolescents.

Facts about Uganda

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Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Uganda
Uganda has invested in positive developments in business and industry, which has led to a steady growth of interest from investors.
Despite these efforts, Uganda appears on the list of the world’s least-developed countries. The proportion of poor people has increased from 2016−2017. Economic growth is insufficiently high or diversified to create development. Uganda’s target is to become a lower middle-income country by 2040. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are integrated into the country’s national development plan.
The high population growth in Uganda is an obstacle to the country’s future progress. The birth rate is six children per woman. Even with an anticipated reduction to below four children per woman in 2040, the population is expected to double to 76 million – in a geographical area smaller than Norway.
With perhaps the world’s youngest population, half of Uganda’s population are below the age of 15. Over 70 per cent of the population are below the age of 30.
Uganda faces several challenges, such as:
  • Relatively unproductive agriculture
  • Weak system of government
  • Widespread corruption
  • High rate of unemployment, especially among young people
  • A challenging refugee situation

Historic overview: 

Uganda is a resource-rich country in the heart of Africa. The first decade after independence in 1962 was marked by great internal differences. In 1971, the country followed a different political course from its neighbours in East Africa when the Commander of the Army, Idi Amin, launched a military coup. He presided over a period of widespread oppression that lasted until 1979. This was followed by several years of unrest until Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement seized power in 1986. Museveni won the presidential election in 1996 and was re-elected for four more terms. The 1960s saw the beginning of Norwegian development aid, and together with neighbouring Tanzania and Kenya, Uganda was among Norway’s first main partner countries.  Norwegian development aid ceased when Amin was in power but started up again after his overthrow. Development aid has been granted in a number of fields such as economic development, good governance, health and education. Uganda is planning to start oil production in 2020 and has received funding from Norway to build up competence in petroleum management via the development aid programme Oil for Development.

Politics and human rights

Uganda has an active civil society and a relatively free press. Nevertheless, the country has problems in terms of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and democratic freedom.
Press freedom is under attack from widespread self-censorship and the arrest of journalists. Ownership of the press is often restricted to those closely affiliated with the regime. 
The rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people (LGBT) are relatively weak in Uganda.
President Museveni has been in power since 1986. He was re-elected in 2016 in an election that demonstrated considerable weaknesses. The Supreme Court of Uganda dismissed the opposition’s appeal in relation to the election, but pointed out that there was a strong need for electoral reform.

Progress in the business sector

Uganda is well-positioned in Africa in relation to the private sector and investment.
However, the business sector faces great challenges, particularly as regards corruption. Most private investors seek agreements with private local companies rather than public agencies. Corruption undermines the country’s ability to attract investments. The greatest obstacle in developing the business sector and job creation, especially in rural areas, continues to be the lack of stable provision of electricity.
There are approximately 50 enterprises in Uganda with Norwegian interests (ownership, subsidiary). The most important sectors are energy, agriculture, finance, ICT and engineering.

Challenging refugee situation

Uganda is one of the world’s largest refugee hosting countries.
The country has experienced a huge increase in the inflow of refugees since July 2016. The reason is the escalation of the conflict in South Sudan.
In April 2017, there were approximately 1.1 million refugees in Uganda, 830 000 of whom came from South Sudan. Some 86 per cent of these refugees are women and children.
Uganda has substantial interests in South Sudan and developments in the neighbouring country are therefore of great importance.

Women’s rights

The situation regarding women’s rights and gender equality has improved somewhat. Women are fairly well represented in political bodies, especially in parliament where in 2016 women constituted 34 per cent of those elected.
However, Uganda’s culture and traditions continue to oppress women.
There is a high level of sexual and gender-based violence in Uganda. Marital rape is not unequivocally prohibited. Child marriage is widespread in rural areas.
Women have fewer rights than men in relation to access to and ownership of land.
In the period 2014−2016, the Strengthening Women Entrepreneurship project supported training programmes in entrepreneurship for more than 5000 women and men. This represents one of many examples of Norwegian-supported interventions for the promotion of women’s rights and gender equality in Uganda.

Norway’s development cooperation with Uganda

Total development aid to Uganda in 2017 amounted to NOK 247 million. For more details on development aid to Uganda, see Norwegian development aid in figures.
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is an important area of cooperation for Uganda and Norway. Norway has helped to finance the building of more than 2000 kilometres of power transmission lines in Uganda. A high-voltage line financed by Norway and stretching for 226 kilometres in western Uganda is under construction. Moreover, Norway has contributed to pilot studies on several large power plants and high-voltage lines as well as financing a number of small hydropower plants. 
In 2016, Uganda was ranked in seventh place globally and in second place in Africa in terms of investment conditions for renewable energy. Climatescope carried out the ranking process.
This ranking emphasises the international development aid programme GeT FiT as a key contributor to Uganda’s high ranking (based on public-private partnership).
GeT FiT supports investments in micro hydropower plants, biomass power plants and solar power plants. Norway is an important contributor. The programme will input 157 MW power to Uganda, approximately 20 per cent of current production capacity. GeT FiT will also stimulate economic growth, reduce poverty and limit the emission of greenhouse gases.
At programme end, the estimated total number of jobs is 4200. In 2016 alone, altogether 1500 jobs were created as a result of the investments.
Oil for Development
In 2006, the first commercial finds of recoverable petroleum were made in Uganda. 
Uganda is a partner country in Oil for Development forward to 2022 with proven oil reserves of 6.5 billion barrels, of which 1.7 billion barrels are considered to be recoverable.
Production start is expected in 2020–2022. With an average production of 200 000 barrels per day, oil reserves in Uganda may last from 20–25 years.
Uganda is one of the main countries in the NORHED programme. The programme covers a number of research areas.
One example is the Norad-supported programme Energy and Petroleum (EnPe) at Makerere University. The NOK 12 million contract has been extended (2014−2018), and among other things will support the development of an institutional cooking stove powered by solar energy. Currently, work is being carried out on a pilot version with a view to commercialisation.
Read more about development cooperation through
non-governmental organisations
The Norwegian NGOs work with refugees, education, gender equality, governance, energy, petroleum, forestry, environmental protection, and peace and reconciliation.
Many of the organisations have a good dialogue with the Norwegian Embassy.
More than 20 Norwegian NGOs are active in Uganda:
• Adina Foundation
• AIESEC in Norway
• Atlas Alliance
• CARE Norway
• Caritas Norway
• The Norwegian Bar Association
• Design without Borders
• Royal Norwegian Society for Development
• Digni
• Norwegian Refugee Council
• FOKUS - Forum for Women and Development
• YWCA-YMCA Global
• Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions
• Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF)
• Norwegian Nurses Organisation
• Plan Norway
• Save the Children Norway
• Right to Play
• SOS Children’s Villages
• Strømme Foundation
• JA Norway
• WWF Norway
Multilateral organisations
The UN is a key player in Uganda and the UNDP Resident Representative is an important partner for Norway. A number of UN organisations that receive substantial support from Norway have a presence there. Norway’s development aid to developing countries, including Uganda, is increasingly channelled through multilateral organisations and global funds.
Together with the Swedish Embassy, the Norwegian Embassy supports the Ugandan office of the Office of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The High Commissioner for Human Rights is making concerted efforts to improve the competence of the police and the judicial system in the field of human rights. The office also helps Uganda to comply with its obligations in respect of the country’s international law commitments. In addition, the office supports civil society in Uganda.
UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations (WFP, IOM)
Norway cooperates with UNHCR to ensure a robust response vis-à-vis refugees in a very challenging situation with more than one million refugees. There is particular focus on Uganda as one of the pilot countries in relation to a comprehensive refugee response – the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRFF). In this connection, WFP and IOM are also important. Both organisations receive substantial funding from Norway.
Norway has supported the UN’s Joint Programme to Address Violence against Women, headed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Norway will continue its cooperation with UNFPA, also in Uganda.
Norway will continue its cooperation with UN Women Uganda, by supporting a programme targeting women refugees and other initiatives.
Norway contributes heavily to global funds in health and education. Uganda is an important recipient and the Norwegian Embassy keeps abreast of development in these sectors.
Peace process in the Great Lakes region
The Great Lakes region in central Africa has long been fraught by conflict, humanitarian crises and breaches of human rights. The eastern part of DRC bordering on Uganda is particularly vulnerable.  
Through the UN’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region, Norway supports the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement in DRC and the region. This is part of the work to create peace, stability and development across borders.
Published 29.08.2014
Last updated 02.10.2015