Region: Eastern Africa
Population: 31,367,972 (July 2008 est.)
Surface area: 236,040 sq km
Currency: CFA Ugandan shilling (UGX)
GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $900 (2007 est.)
After more than 20 years of conflict in the north of the country, a relative period of peace started and led to the return of most of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and the closure of the IDP camps during 2009 and 2010. The return of IDPs is however characterized by poor basic social services including lack of access to education, health care and land, making it a serious challenge for sustainable development. Access to justice is also a major concern. The government and international actors moved thus from a focus on humanitarian assistance toward development assistance and recovery.
Among emerging national challenges is the recent terrorist attacks (11 July 2010) by Al Shabaab in Kampala and ongoing threats which raises concerns about human rights protection while countering terrorism.
Presidential, Parliamentary and local government elections continue to draw attention to the state of public freedoms and civil and political rights.
Although Uganda has adopted a number of legal instruments for the protection of vulnerable groups, the implementation phase is progressing slowly. Discrimination, as well as sexual and gender-based violence, is a matter of major concern. Women, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV/AIDS, LGBTIs and especially vulnerable individuals among the remaining IDP and returnee population are still facing challenges in enjoying human rights on an equal basis.
Uganda became independent form British colonial rule in 1962. The country went on to experience a decade of relative political and economic stability. Uganda became a failed state following a military coup by Idi Amin in 1971, which sparked a trajectory of violence and mismanagement. The country's economy also collapsed as a result. The political and economic turbulence continued between 1979 and 1985, with a succession of coups, and a contested election in 1980, resulting in civil conflict across the country. The National Resistance Movement (NRM), took power in 1986 and was led by Yoweri Museveni. This marked the beginning of a period of sustained economic and political awakening. During the first ten years of NRM rule, the government focused on restructuring the economy through pro-market reforms and increasing the legitimacy of government institutions through political liberalization. However, a brutal civil war waged by theLord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda left thousands dead and millions displaced, dampening economic activity and deepening poverty in the region. After protracted peace efforts, the LRA was pushed out of Uganda in 2005, and there have been no major security incidents since then. Economic activity has resumed in northern Uganda, and most internally displaced persons have returned to their land, with the poverty rate falling from 60 percent in 2005/06 to 45 percent in 2009/10.
Several bills with negative implications for human rights, including the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which proposes the death penalty for some consensual same-sex activity, failed to advance but remain in parliament.
Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, small deposits of copper, gold, and other minerals, and recently discovered oil. Uganda has never conducted a national minerals survey. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80% of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues.
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 are especially aimed at dampening inflation and boosting 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, better domestic security, and the return of exiled Indian-Ugandan entrepreneurs. Uganda has received about $2 billion in multilateral and bilateral debt relief. In 2007 Uganda received $10 million for aMillennium Challenge Account Threshold Program. The global economic downturn has hurt Uganda's exports; however, Uganda's GDP growth is still relatively strong due to past reforms and sound management of the downturn. Oil revenues and taxes will become a larger source of government funding as oil comes on line in the next few years. Instability in southern Sudan is the biggest risk for the Ugandan economy in 2011 because Uganda's main export partner is Sudan, and Uganda is a key destination for Sudanese refugees.
In 2011, the Ugandan economy declined from gross domestic product (GDP) growth of over 6% the previous year to 4.1%. Over the course of the year, inflation averaged 18.8%, up from 4.1% in 2010, the exchange rate depreciated by 6.2% against the US dollar (USD), and the trade deficit increased from 9.6% to 10.8% of GDP.
The 2012 African Economic Outlook projects real GDP growth to improve to 4.5% and 4.9% in 2012 and 2013, respectively, mainly premised on good prospects in the oil sector. However, attaining these rates will depend on the ability of the authorities to address major infrastructural constraints, particularly in the energy sector, and to mitigate risk factors, including those linked to climate change. Inflationary pressures are forecast to subside in 2012 and to reach single digits in 2013, reflecting both global declines in food and fuel prices, as well as the impact of monetary tightening by the Bank of Uganda (BoU). The government is expected to rein in expenditure growth; yet slower revenue collections brought about by the slowdown of economic activity are likely to offset any improvements on the fiscal balance. On the external front, the current-account deficit is projected to deteriorate in 2012 and 2013 to 10.2% and 11.1% of GDP, respectively, as import growth accelerates and exports are hit by the global economic slowdown.
Uganda has one of the youngest and fastest growing populations on the African continent and, thus, faces the associated challenge of providing quality employment for these young people. In 2009/10, it was estimated that 5.9 million, or 19.3% of the population were between the ages of 15 and 24. Youth unemployment was estimated at 4.3%, higher than for the labor force as a whole, at 3.8%. Youth unemployment and underemployment trends in Uganda are driven by a variety of factors, including the lack of employable skills, limited access to financial and technical resources, the insufficient emphasis on vocational training and a mismatch between skills and requirements in the job market. To address the challenges posed by youth unemployment in Uganda, the government is pursuing a number of interventions aimed at improving the employability of young people through initiatives such as the establishment of a Youth Venture Capital Fund to support entrepreneurial bankable ideas and initiatives, and the national Business, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (BTVET) programme.