Uganda Labor Market

In rural areas, Ugandans live primarily on cultivation for their own use. Those living in cities generally support themselves outside the formal economy. Many work as maids, but it can also be about sales on a small scale. Others run micro companies that manufacture clothing, shoes or furniture for the local market, drive taxis or do smaller construction jobs. A large part of those who work in wages have only temporary employment.

About three out of four Ugandans receive part of their income from the agricultural sector, but as many as two out of five receive most of their income from what they grow themselves. Only just over 3 percent of the workforce is employed in the manufacturing industry. The service sector has grown sharply in Uganda – especially in the larger cities – with a large proportion of small businesses. However, it is common for many of the small companies to be forced to strike again after a short time.

Since the end of the 1980s, the number of government employees has slipped sharply. Since the end of the 1990s, income gaps have widened as the urban population, primarily, has received higher incomes.

Every year, about 400,000 young Ugandans come out in the labor market, but according to estimates, only 40,000 new jobs are created per year. This means that unemployment is high, especially among young people, where three out of five are estimated to have no work. Even well-educated Ugandans find it difficult to find a job. Many of those who have a job are underemployed.

According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) of 2014, almost every third child aged 6-13 works and over half of all 14-17 year-olds. Child labor is most common in rural areas and it is as common for girls to work as boys do.

  • COUNTRYAAH: List of key population facts of Uganda, covering most basic population data, religion statistics, and language profiles.

Uganda Population

Women are discriminated against in the labor market. According to a 2009 study, women’s wages are about 30 percent lower than men’s. In more qualified professions, the pay gap is lower.

Trade unions are weak and companies rarely respect collective agreements. There are around 40 unions that together organize about 3 percent of the workforce. The largest umbrella organizations are the National Organization of Trade Unions (Notu), which in 2014 was estimated to have 290,000 members, and the Confederation of Free Trade Unions (Coftu), with 30,000 members. Formally, the unions are independent. It appears that employees are dismissed because they are members of the union.

Several reports have come of harassment of union activists, including the leaders of Notu and Coftu in 2013 in connection with demonstrations where they demanded that Uganda impose a minimum wage.



1.8 percent (2019)

Youth Unemployment

2.7 percent (2019)



Academics get right to the authorities

December 18

A Ugandan court decides that the regime critic and academic Stella Nyanzi should be awarded compensation of the equivalent of $ 14,000 for the authorities in 2017 prevented her from leaving the country. The High Court believes that they have thereby violated her right to travel freely. Nyanzi turned to court when she was barred from attending an academic conference in Amsterdam to get it tested if they had the right to do so and to get back money she had spent on visas, air travel and hotels. Nyanzi is now in jail where she is serving an 18-month sentence for insulting President Museveni (see August 2019).

Flooding requires at least 16 lives

December 8

At least 16 people are killed in connection with floods in Bundibugyo in the western part of the country. According to reports, both roads and residential buildings have been washed away. Large parts of eastern Africa have been affected by floods as well as landslides as a result of storms caused by an unusual weather phenomenon in the Indian Ocean, the Indian Ocean Dipole. It is caused by large temperature differences between the western and eastern parts of the Indian Ocean.

Museveni walks against corruption

December 4th

President Yoweri Museveni takes the lead in a “walk against corruption” in the capital, Kampala, in the company of thousands of his followers. Museveni declares that he never stole anything from anyone and described corrupt people as “parasites”. Critics point out that Museven did not do much to fight corruption during his many years in power.


“Action against bar aimed at LGBT people”

November 12

Ugandan police carry a scare against a bar in Kampala and arrest 125 people. 67 of them are charged with a crime roughly equivalent to outrageous behavior. Six of the arrested are women. The evidence suggests that police action is directed against LGBT -Persons, but the police claim that the raid was made against people who smoked tobacco and illicit opium.

Violent assault against student protest

November 4th

Ugandan police and military have made several strikes against students at Makerere University in Kampala who, since October 22, are protesting that university fees have been increased by 15 percent. The security forces have entered the university area and arrested and beaten students. Dozens of students have been arrested without prosecution, according to Human Rights Watch(HRW). Journalists have also been barred from going to the campus to report on the events, according to HRW. The authorities are accusing the political opposition of paying the students for protesting and the media for spreading false information that the security forces have attacked the students. HRW urges the government to stop these violent attacks on the students, and to launch an independent investigation into what has happened. On November 1, according to a military spokesman, the officer who held the strike was arrested.


16 are at risk of prosecution for gay sex

October 23

Police say 16 people arrested at the beginning of the week in a suburb of Kampala will be prosecuted for “unnatural sex,” reports the BBC, pointing out that this is the code word for sex between people of the same sex. If they fall for this. Earlier in October, Minister of Ethics and Privacy Simon Lokodo announced that he would present a bill to tighten the penalties for “homosexual acts” and to advocate homosexuality and “recruit” people (see October 10, 2019). Shortly thereafter, however, a spokesman for the government tweeted that it did not intend to introduce any stricter penalties. According to Human Rights Watchthis follows a pattern from 2014, when a bill was passed that introduced the death penalty for “homosexual acts”. Even then, the government came with conflicting messages.

Students protest against increased fees

22 October

Twelve female students at Makerere University in Kampala protest against a 15 per cent increase in university fees. They are arrested by police but released the same day. One of the students Siperia Saasiraabo says in a TV interview that she was threatened by text message. The day after, she is reported missing, but later found unconscious. The university shuts her off and eight other students who participated in the protest. The students continue to protest and the police and military make several strikes against them, putting tear gas on the students in the university dormitories.

New bill on the death penalty for homosexuality

October 10

The Ugandan government plans to re-submit a bill that proposes homosexuality with the death penalty. Minister of Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo claims that “homosexuality is not natural in Uganda” and that homosexuals are committed to recruiting young people in schools. According to the minister, the current legislation only criminalizes “homosexual acts” but he wants it now to be punishable also to advocate homosexuality and to “recruit” people, and that those who commit serious crimes should be punishable by death. Lokodo says it has the support of President Yoweri Museveni in this and that the bill will be presented in the coming weeks. LGBT activist Frank Mugisha says you should do everything you can to combat the bill in the same way you did last time a similar proposal was relevant. He thinks the issue is not something that engages Ugandans today.

Bobi Wines residence is surrounded by police

October 9

Police surround the opposition politician and rock star Bobi Wines residence. It happens shortly after the authorities stopped a planned concert that would be held in connection with the celebration of Uganda’s National Day. The authorities justify their decision that the security could not be guaranteed. However, the opposition politician manages to get past the police barricades. Bobi Wine, which is actually called Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has said he plans to run for president in 2021, and through his strong support among many young Ugandans, is likely to threaten President Yoweri Museveni’s long-held power.

LGBTQ activist is murdered

October 4th

LGBT activist Brian Wasswa is being beaten so badly in his home in the town of Jinja in eastern Uganda that he later dies. Wasswa worked among others for an NGO Taso with information on HIV / AIDS and to provide legal aid for persons in vulnerable situations, including LGBT -Persons.

Red bunkers are prohibited

October 1st

Ugandan authorities prohibit residents from wearing or selling red bats, a headdress associated with opposition politician and rock star Bobi Wine (who is actually called Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu). It is also worn by many of his supporters. The decision is justified by the fact that red baskets have been included as part of a military uniform, and therefore are state property. Anyone who violates the ban, which also applies to other parts of military uniforms, can be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Wine describes the ban as a scam and says his opposition movement is about so much more than a garment.


Uganda and Russia agree on cooperation on nuclear energy

September 18

Uganda and Russia agree to cooperate on nuclear energy. Uganda has its own resources of uranium that it is hoped to be able to use to develop nuclear power in the country. The agreement is signed by the Russian state-owned company Rosatom and Uganda’s Minister of Energy.

The US is imposing sanctions on the former national police chief

September 13

The United States faces sanctions on former National Police Chief Kale Kayihura, who is accused of committing corruption and gross human rights violations, including torture. He was dismissed from office by President Yoweri Museveni in the spring of 2018 and later arrested (see March 2018). The sanctions mean that all of Kayihura’s assets in the United States are frozen and neither he nor anyone from his family is allowed to go there. Kayihura has long been one of the country’s most influential people who acted directly on orders from the president.


Reconciliation agreement with Rwanda

21th of August

Uganda and Rwanda sign an agreement to reduce tensions between the two neighboring countries, which have been fighting a post-war war for months. After the two presidents Yoweri Musevenu and Paul Kagame became enemies, in February Rwanda closed the border with Uganda in the north. The conflict escalated in March when Rwanda accused Uganda of abducting Rwandan citizens and supporting rebels who want to overthrow Kagame and his government. Uganda, for its part, accused Rwanda of spying and seizing and expelling several Rwandans. In May, Ugandan police accused Rwanda’s military of having crossed the border and killed two Ugandan men, something Rwanda’s government denies. In the new agreement, signed in Angola, the two countries promise to respect each other’s sovereignty and abstain from acts that undermine the stability of the neighboring country. The discontent between the country’s leaders has led to reduced trade and damaged the economy in the area. The agreement aims to set the point for this.

New charges against Bobbi Wine

5 August

Rapper and opposition politician Bobi Wine (actually called Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu) says one of his supporters, musician Michael Kalinda, has died after being kidnapped and tortured by unknown perpetrators. According to Kyagulanyi, Kalinda had lost one eye, two fingers and had burns on parts of her body. Kyagulanyi says that in the last year, tens of his followers have been abducted by unknown persons and tortured. The authorities deny that any of these crimes have occurred on their orders. A few days later, further charges are filed against Kyagulanyi for annoying, upset and ridiculing President Yoweri Museveni.August 2018). For that, Kyagulanyi and some 30 other people have already been charged with treason.

Academics are sentenced to prison for “harassing” the president online

August 2

A Ugandan academic and regime critic, Stella Nyanzi, is sentenced to 18 years in prison for harassing President Yoweri Museveni online. The verdict concerns a post she had made on Facebook. However, she is acquitted on a charge point relating to “offensive communication”. She has been incarcerated since November 2018. The verdict is criticized by Amnesty, among others.


The pop star will be running for president

July 26

Ugandan pop star and opposition politician, 37-year-old Bobi Wine (actually called Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu), announces that he intends to run for president in 2021. Kyagulanyi, which has strong support among many young Ugandans, appears to be the biggest threat to President Yoweri Museveni’s continued holding of power. He promises to work for better economy and to fight the widespread corruption for which he accuses Museveni and his powerhouse. He later says that about 50 MPs, including about 10 from the ruling party NRM, support his candidacy. Kyagulanyi says he believes the president will try to stop him from taking part in the election, possibly by setting a lower limit on how old a candidate may be to stand for election.

New Ebola case in Uganda

July 17

Yet another case of the viral disease ebola reporters in Uganda. It is happening in the same vein as the WHO decides to announce an “international crisis situation” due to the situation in neighboring Congo-Kinshasa.

Call on time to resolve the dispute with Rwanda

July 12

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan colleague Paul Kagame, who are both attending a summit in Angola, promise to try to find ways to reduce tensions between the countries. The crisis picked up at the end of February when Rwanda suddenly closed the border with Uganda, which had negative consequences for both countries’ economies. Both Uganda and Rwanda have accused the neighboring country of interfering with their internal affairs.


Bobi Wine prepared to challenge Museveni in the 2021 presidential election

June 14

Opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as pop star Bobi Wine, says he is prepared to challenge incumbent President Yoweri Museveni in the 202 presidential election. Kyagulanyi says that after 33 years, “dictatorship has weakened, that all dictatorships have a best-before date” and that the majority of Ugandans who support him “have time on their side”.

First ebola case in Uganda since 2012

June 11

A five-year-old boy has been infected with the virus disease Ebola. It is the first case of the disease reported from Uganda since 2012. The boy had traveled with his family to Congo-Kinshasa to attend a funeral. The boy and one other person later die. Six new cases of Ebola infection are reported simultaneously. In the neighboring country, the disease has claimed around 1,300 lives since August 2018, and more than 2,000 people have been infected. In order to prevent a possible epidemic, Uganda has vaccinated about 4,700 health care workers against Ebola for prevention. WHO meets on June 14 to assess the situation, but concludes that it is not yet an “international crisis situation”.


New strike against media

May 2

The Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) shuts down some 30 journalists for reporting the arrest of opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as pop star Bobi Wine. Journalists testify that they received threatening phone calls from government officials. Representatives from the media industry accuse UCC of violating their powers.


Bobi Wine grips

April 29

Only days left for opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, Bobi Wine, who is arrested again, accused of organizing demonstrations in 2018 against a new tax on social media. The following day, unrest erupts as young people protest against the arrest. The arrest is condemned from several directions, including the political opposition. Amnesty International calls on authorities to release Robert Kyagulanyi. His growing popularity is a nail in the eye of Ugandan rulers, especially since the opposition politician said earlier this month that he is considering taking part in the 2021. Presidential election. Robert Kyagulanyi is released on bail after three nights in custody.

Bobi Wine is released from house arrest

26th of April

Police announce that opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, best known as pop star Bobi Wine, is now free to leave his home in the city of Magere. They justify their decision that they no longer suspect that he is causing any “havoc” that could pose a threat to national security. The police also say they have stopped guarding the opposition politician’s home.

Bobi Wine is arrested again

April 22

Opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, best known as pop star Bobi Wine, is arrested by police in Busabala, where he should have held a concert. It is not clear if he has been formally arrested or if it is just a mark on the part of the police. Prior to his arrest, Kyagulanyi accused the authorities of breaking into his car and of assaulting his supporters. Later it is reported that the police placed him in “preventive house arrest”.

HD approves constitutional change

April 18

Uganda’s Supreme Court approves the constitutional amendment where the age limit for the president is abolished (it was previously set at 75 years) and thus confirms a previous ruling in the Constitutional Court, where the opposition first appealed the decision. This will enable President Museveni to stand in the upcoming presidential election in 2021, for the sixth time. However, the court does not agree, four of the judges give their approval, while three judges wanted a different ruling.


Diplomatic dispute between Uganda and Rwanda is getting worse

6 March

A two-year diplomatic conflict between Uganda and Rwanda is exacerbated and leads to Rwanda closing the border crossing to the neighboring country. Rwandan authorities officially deny that the border has been closed, but in practice many are prevented from crossing it (cars from other countries are allowed though). The Rwandan government discourages Rwandans from traveling to Uganda. From both Uganda and Rwanda there are accusations that the neighboring country is interfering in their internal affairs. Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera accuses Uganda of supporting rebel groups seeking to overthrow Paul Kagame’s government in Kigali, something the Ugandan government denies. At the same time, Ugandan press speculates on whether Rwanda has succeeded in infiltrating Uganda’s security apparatus. There are also several cases where Rwandans have been expelled from Uganda accused of spying. One case concerns Annie Tabura, who worked for telecom company MTN Uganda, who was forced to leave Uganda in January after being identified as a security risk. Rwanda is dependent on goods transported to the country from Kenyan ports via Uganda.


NRM nominates Museveni as a candidate in the 2021 presidential election

February 20th

The NRM government nominates President Yoweri Museveni as its candidate in the 2021 presidential election. That probably means he will run for a sixth term. Museveni says he wants to stand because he “still has work to do”.

President Museveni’s son is promoted to lieutenant general

February 19

President Museveni promotes his son Kainerugaba Muhoozi to Lieutenant General, the second highest in the Army. This is the third time in six years that Muhoozi has been promoted. Since 2017, he has served as advisor to the President for special operations. Several employees of Muhoozi are also promoted, as are about 2,000 others.

Daily Monitor is requested to close the website

6th of February

Ugandan authorities order the country’s largest newspaper Daily Monitor to shut down its website. This is done with reference to the newspaper not registering it, in accordance with new rules introduced in 2018. It is Parliament’s Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who has made complaints and accuses the newspaper of publishing fake news in order to harm her. The newspaper has recently reported on a case in which a “witch doctor” accused Kadaga of not having paid for a consultation that had taken place 30 years earlier.

Uganda Labor Market