Norway plays a central advisory role in the management of petroleum resources and the development of clean energy.

Facts about Uganda

The flag for Uganda
Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Uganda

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

President Yoweri Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) have been in power in Uganda for 29 years. The next presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in 2016.

Uganda has an active civil society and a relatively free press, but there are problems regarding freedom of assembly and the margin of democratic freedom. Organizations working with politically non-sensitive matters such as health and education can operate fairly freely.

Those involved in more sensitive matters such as anti-corruption, petroleum, land reform and human rights are often harassed. NGOs are subject to extensive reporting to the authorities. A new legislative proposal for the activities of NGOs will probably exacerbate the situation.

The situation regarding women’s rights and gender equality has improved considerably but significant challenges remain.

Women are relatively well represented on political bodies, particularly in parliament. At the same time the level of gender-based violence remains high and marital rape is not indisputably forbidden. Child marriage is widespread in rural areas.

The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Uganda have long been severely challenged and the situation has further deteriorated following the adoption of a new law prohibiting homosexuality in March 2014.

The police regularly harass LGBT activists, who are often evicted from rented accommodation, while students accused of homosexuality are frequently expelled from educational institutions and denied education.

Norway froze part of its aid to Uganda in the wake of the adoption of the law. The law was later rescinded by the constitutional court. In the run-up to the election, parliamentarians are under considerable pressure to adopt a new law.

The economic situation is relatively good. The World Bank has estimated growth of 6.3 per cent in GDP in 2014. Nevertheless, continued high population growth has meant that not enough jobs are being created and a large proportion of the population does not benefit from the economic growth.

Uganda remains a poor country with a per capita GDP of USD 788. The country aims to achieve lower middle-income status in 2020.

Better anti-corruption laws

Corruption remains one of Uganda’s greatest obstacles when it comes to the efficient provision of services and the ability to attract investment. Laws and institutions combating corruption have improved and central institutions such as the Office of the Auditor General, the Inspector General of Government and the Ministry of Finance appear to take the problem seriously. Anti-corruption activists are regularly arrested and harassed.

Uganda is strongly involved in regional cooperation, and regional stability was also high on the agenda in 2014.

The conflict in South Sudan is the most important foreign policy priority and Uganda plays a key role as a neighbouring country with close economic ties and a strong military presence supporting the South Sudan government forces.

The situation in eastern Congo was also important for Uganda in 2014, and it deployed approximately 6 500 soldiers to assist in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Economic integration in East Africa is also high on Uganda’s foreign policy agenda, and the process for more open markets with neighbouring countries continued in 2014.

Development cooperation

Clean energy

One of the main challenges for Uganda’s energy sector is under-production of energy. Access to electricity lies at 14 per cent and in rural districts it is much lower – seven per cent on average.

The authorities have set the goal of achieving 26 per cent electrification in rural districts by 2021. The cost of this has been estimated by the Rural Electricity Authority (REA) at USD 951 million. Norway is an important contributor in helping Uganda to achieve this goal and in 2014 provided NOK 147 million in support for clean energy.

Norway is providing support for the building of a 226 km long high-voltage transmission line in western Uganda costing USD 75 million. Norway’s funding commitment amounts to NOK 300 million.

Norway has also supplied NOK 196 million to fund six projects for rural electrification. A total of 888 km of low-voltage distribution lines were completed in 2014. The goal of the projects is job creation and economic growth in rural districts.

Potentially, a total of 25 000 households and small businesses, schools and medical clinics will be connected to the grid. A dozen or so small industrial companies engaging in the grinding of maize etc. have been established. The costs of grid connection are a challenge for many households. Norway also provides subsidies for grid connection together with other donors.

GetFit was established in 2013, with the purpose of attracting private investors to finance the development of micro hydropower plants based on renewable energy. Agreements have been drawn up through GetFit to extend power production capacity to 128 MW. The aim is to agree contracts that together will provide 170 MW in renewable energy. The last round will take place in 2015 and Norwegian energy companies have shown great interest in this programme.

Petroleum management

Uganda has proven oil reserves of 3.6 billion barrels, of which 1.4 billion barrels are deemed to be recoverable. Production start-up is expected in 2020–2022. With an average maximum production of 200 000 barrels per day, petroleum reserves in Uganda may last between 20 to 25 years and the annual income may potentially be USD 2 to 3 billion. This is equivalent to over 50 per cent of Uganda’s total national debt.

The main purpose of the Oil for Development programme is to help Uganda implement a national oil and gas policy from 2008 onwards. Norwegian funding mainly targets capacity enhancement, competence building and support for the drawing up of legislation.

Efforts to strengthen responsibility and transparency in management are highly prioritized. In addition, studies that give the Ugandan authorities a better decision-making basis and control of developments are funded.

Regulations that must be in place in order to announce a new licencing round for exploration activities are being drafted and must be approved before other activities can be started and completed. National policies and plans for local content have been adopted and are intended to ensure that Ugandans are able to play a part in the petroleum sector.

In the field of financial management, training in tax administration in cooperation with the Norwegian Petroleum Tax Office has been of major importance. Regulations linked to petroleum finance management were included in the new law on financial management that was enacted towards the end of 2014. A model to assist Ugandan authorities in calculating petroleum revenue and distributing oil resources was also developed.


A plan for the follow-up of the environmental impact report has been prepared and will be reviewed by the Cabinet. This is an important basis for policy development linked to the environment and biodiversity in areas of petroleum activities. The follow-up will be of decisive importance for a sustainable environment in petroleum extraction areas and for safeguarding people’s living conditions.

Guidelines and regulations for the activities of oil companies have been completed and implemented and include emission control and oil spill preparedness. Methods for measuring how the activities of companies affect the environment have also been established. Information activities were strengthened to adjust sky-high expectations with respect to oil wealth and to meet people’s concerns regarding petroleum activities in relation to property, compensation and living conditions.

Women and gender equality

The largest Norwegian intervention for women and gender equality is administered through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) programme, and targets gender-based violence in northern and north-east Uganda. The aim of the programme is to reduce and prevent gender-based violence, to build up an apparatus to help survivors and to combat impunity, as well as to promote changes in policy and in the legislation.

An external review shows that important results were achieved in 2014, including improved knowledge about gender-based violence, a reduction in vulnerability and enhanced service provision. In 2014 Norway provided over NOK 22 million in funding.

Cash transfers

In 2014 the Norwegian Embassy in Kampala in cooperation with Action Contre La Faim (ACF) continued a cash transfer programme whose target group is vulnerable women and their households. The goal is to help reduce gender-based violence and to contribute to the development of income-generating and financially sustainable measures in parts of northern Uganda.

Forty women’s groups participating in activities targeting gender-based violence also receive instruction in reading and writing. Between July 2013 and June 2014, a total of 5 917 women and 1 655 men received instruction. Altogether 7 330 women received cash transfers and participated in local savings schemes.

The groups have contributed to income growth even after the cash transfers ended. Attitudes surveys also show that there has been a marked improvement when it comes to viewing women as equals in decision-making processes. In 2014 the programme was granted NOK four million in support.

The second phase of Women Entrepreneurs commenced in 2014 and is intended to change women’s attitudes in the northern and eastern areas of Uganda, which are most affected by conflict. A total of 69 women’s groups and 268 female entrepreneurs have undergone the first phase of training in "agri-business entrepreneurship", training of trainers, investment and saving.

The women who have taken part in the training report that, as a result, they have started up small businesses and can see opportunities for expansion, and have also gained greater self-confidence and increased their family’s income.

Democracy, human rights and good governance

Since 2011 Norway has contributed to the multi-donor fund Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), which supports democratic development, human rights, peace, the judicial sector and initiatives to strengthen civil society’s efforts to draw attention to financial irregularities and inefficient use of public resources.

At the end of 2014, the DGF was working with 81 different partners, primarily drawn from civil society but also including public institutions such as the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the parliament.

In 2014 a total of NOK 80 000 was provided in legal aid, mainly in connection with land disputes. Approximately 500 000 women and men received social education. The reporting of corruption was improved.

Women’s participation in local democracy was increased and people’s knowledge about the human rights obligations of the state was reinforced.

The DGF received NOK 37 million in Norwegian support in 2014.

Norway continued to focus attention on the rights of sexual minorities in accordance with Norway’s international profile and prioritization of the issue. This is a sensitive subject in Uganda. Norway supports local efforts, primarily in civil society.

The Norwegian Embassy has cooperated with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights since 2013. The work includes boosting the competence of the police and the judicial system regarding human rights, and assisting Uganda to comply with its obligations under the UN Convention against Torture.

In 2014 the OHCHR received NOK six million in Norwegian support.

The Financial Management and Accountability Programme (FINMAP) is Uganda’s “umbrella” for reforms in public financial management. The programme is funded by Norway, Ireland, Sweden, the EU, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Ugandan state. The foreign donors financed 54 per cent of the costs in 2013/14, with Norway’s contribution standing at 28 per cent.

The annual report for the 2013/14 financial year shows good goal achievement. Capacity has been strengthened within accounting, auditing, public procurement and IT systems. This has helped improve the budget process and strengthened macro-economic management.

The prognosis for public sector revenues and expenditure has improved. The report also shows that the independence and capacity of the Zambian Office of the Auditor General has been boosted.

Climate and forest

Uganda is subject to dramatic deforestation. Norway has helped to meet this challenge through long-term cooperation with the forest sector via the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative. Norwegian development cooperation with Uganda gives priority to strengthening the private forest sector.

Uganda’s national development plan acknowledges the importance of the environment and its essential role in sustainable development. Ugandan legislation in this area of the law is also good but there is a wide divide between intentions and actual follow-up.

The biggest challenge is the pressure on the remaining natural forest. Large-scale lawful and unlawful logging activities are taking place, and the forest cover is declining by five per cent annually. If this development continues, it may mean that Uganda’s entire forest cover will have disappeared by 2050.

The Sawlog Production Grant Scheme is a programme aimed at encouraging private forest owners to plant more trees. The programme, which is co-funded with the EU, should have ended, but a cost-free extension has been agreed.

So far 6 185.5 hectares of forest have been planted and 179 participants have completed a comprehensive training and awareness programme. In addition, support has been given to the development of 54 commercial plant nurseries and 14 forestry contractors have been certified.

The Uganda Tree Grower Association (UTGA) has achieved good results through its cooperation with the Norwegian company, Norskog Consulting. The organization has become stronger and more effective at promoting the interests of commercial forest owners vis-à-vis local and central authorities, including through running a number of campaigns. The development of a forestry value chain has been started with 172 tonnes of timber sold via UTGA.


Norad provided NOK 71.5 million in support of activities in Uganda in 2014. The largest recipients are Save the Children and the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF).

A project for clean energy under the auspices of WWF has provided 6 800 households in the town of Kasese with electricity from solar energy, and 33 000 household have acquired more energy-efficient cooking stoves. These are significant improvements for both poor people and the climate.

Published 29.08.2014
Last updated 02.10.2015