Economy & Industry

Self-employed / cottage industries

Since the 1990s, peace, stability and economic reforms have allowed Uganda to prosper and the economy has been growing at over 5% each year.


BrickmakingIn this video… the process of brick-making is explained. It's a tough job, where strong arms are required.

In 2005, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya launched the ‘East African Community Customs Union’ for trade in the region; Burundi and Rwanda joined these countries in 2009.

But with the population doubling over the last two decades, unemployment is high. Many Ugandans therefore set themselves up in unregulated or informal jobs, such as brick-making and charcoal-selling.

With the growing population, there is a huge demand for housing in Uganda and the construction industry is a fast-growing sector.

Demand for wood

Most houses are made from cured bricks of clay/soil. Traditional methods for firing these bricks use a lot of firewood, increasing deforestation – see Geography & Wildlife. Modern and more sustainable techniques are available, but these require investment and training.


CharcoalIn this video… a woman sells charcoal to support her children. Although charcoal gives her a livelihood, she understands its negative effect on the environment.

Since electricity and gas are expensive, over 90% of Ugandans rely on charcoal or wood fuel for their energy needs. Many young men seek a living by cutting down trees to make charcoal.

Uganda’s trees are disappearing at an alarming rate. The use of charcoal-efficient stoves is therefore being encouraged, as well as alternative fuels such as briquettes. These can be made from discarded materials like coffee hulls, sawdust and waste paper.

Brown beans and black gold

With its rich soils and rainfall in the south, agriculture accounts for a large share of Uganda’s export and domestic activity.

Coffee varieties

Two types of coffee are produced in Uganda – i) Arabica is grown in highland areas, brought to the country in the 1900s ii) Robusta is a native variety, growing wild in the rainforests. Uganda is one of the world's major Robusta producers.

Coffee is the main export, bringing in over 350 million dollars each year and accounting for nearly half the country’s earnings from agricultural produce. One-fifth of the population is estimated to earn some or all of their income from coffee.

Over 90% of this coffee is grown by small farmers (typically working less than one hectare/three acres of land) and they are very dependent on global coffee prices. The government is trying to encourage farmers to diversify.

Despite the growing economy, rises in the cost of food and fuel caused unrest in 2011.

New revenues will soon flow into Uganda from oil reserves found in the west (around 50 billion dollars-worth). If handled well, the discovery will boost the country’s economy, with the oil bringing in an estimated 2 billion dollars each year.