Doing Business in Uganda

Business and Economic Overview

Uganda is the 122nd largest export economy in the world and the 77th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).

The top exports of Uganda are Coffee ($555m), Gold ($416m), Dried Legumes ($98.4m), Fish Fillets ($87.1m) and Cocoa Beans ($74.9m). Its top imports are Refined Petroleum ($934m), Palm Oil ($255m), Packaged Medicaments ($236m), Broadcasting Equipment ($213m) and Cars ($141m).

The top export destinations of Uganda are the United Arab Emirates ($427m), Kenya ($391m), South Sudan ($253m), the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($189m) and Rwanda ($171m). The top import origins are China ($1.15b), India ($724m), the United Arab Emirates ($623m), Kenya ($506m) and Japan ($376m).

Uganda ranks 127th in ease of doing business and ranks 107th in the Global index of Economic openness 2019. These low-ranking shows that corruption is an issue when dealing with businesses.

There is a high risk of corruption in Uganda’s public services sector. Businesses state that they are expected to give gifts to public officials ‘to get things done’ and that bribery is very common in the process of obtaining public utilities. The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is in charge of vetting applications, deals with complaints, and helps foreign investors obtain necessary permits.

Uganda’s public procurement sector is riddled with corruption despite there being adequate legal and institutional instruments. Companies report that government officials often favour well-connected companies and individuals when awarding contracts and notice that the diversion of public funds due to corruption to be very common. Companies indicate that they expect to give gifts in order to secure government contracts. 

Foreign firms have complained of a lack of transparency in government procurement and possible collusion between competing business interests and government officials in the tendering process. The criteria used to evaluate bids are not readily available to the public. 

Companies are recommended to use a specialised public procurement due diligence tools to mitigate the corruption risks associated with public procurement in Uganda.

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