Uganda’s exports solid, wary of virus

Saturday March 21 2020

In recent years, Uganda became a net exporter of food to the rest of East Africa, with maize, beans, soya bean, simsim, groundnuts and tea high on the list of foodstuffs exported to neighbouring countries. FILE PHOTO | NMG


Uganda’s economy remained strong in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Export receipts rose from $326.75 million in December 2019 to $379.67 million in January 2020.

Commodities like coffee, maize and cocoa beans registered growth. Coffee recorded the highest rise owing to an increase in both the volumes and values from $31.87 million in December 2019 to $48.19 million in January.

But if the pandemic is not contained soon, the country will not escape the economic effects of the virus.

“Areas that could be affected include tourism, exports, imports, remittances, exchange rate and inflation among others,” reads the economic performance report released last week by the Finance Ministry.

In January for example, 29.3 per cent of Ugandan exports went to the Middle East. Last week, the country announced it would not issue any entry visas.

Uganda’s exported 28.7 per cent of its goods within the EAC and 17.5 per cent to the rest of Africa where the pandemic is less vicious.


Tour operators are registering cancellations, which are coming at the country’s peak tourism season that runs from February to May. It is hoped that the second tourism high season, from September to December will help offset the losses. Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner; last year it brought $1.4 billion in revenue to the country.

The financial sector could be hit hard, with business failing to pay loans in view of reduced trading.

“It is not clear whether the world will face a recession and that means we shall be depending on ourselves. We also need to support the financial sector by government sharing risks in order to sustain businesses,” Ugandan economist Ramathan Goobi said.