Eastern and Northern Uganda are not
reaping the benefits of being close to Uganda’s key export markets of Kenya and
South Sudan despite being closer than any other region.
This is according to the recently
released World Bank Uganda’s jobs strategy for Uganda 2020 report.
Instead, Central and Western Uganda
have development production lines that are supplying goods to the Kenya and
South Sudan markets, creating descent jobs for their people.
This speaks the issue of inequality
with Northern and Eastern regions lagging behind in transformation while Western and Central Uganda are prospering.
Dino Merotto, a World
Bank Economist and Author of the latest World Bank report on Uganda,
said the country needs to think about regional priorities so as to help every
part of the country benefit from the transformation.
Cue in: “You need to
Cue out: … in the
Eastern and Northern regions are close
to international markets including Kenya and South Sudan, currently, Uganda’s
most important food export markets.
However, regional gaps in job opportunities
have increased over time with the two lagging behind.
Uganda exports fresh fruits, milk, meat
and many other agricultural products to Kenya and South Sudan.
able to produce such have developed in the West and Central region.
The report notes that growth from
subsistence to commercial farming has been concentrated in the
central and western regions: Fort Portal, Kasese, and Mbarara are areas with
potential for commercial farming and agro-processing to create jobs.
With the exception of Jinja, the
report says, commercial farming and food processing companies remained
underdeveloped in Eastern and Northern regions. There were many food processors in the
eastern region, but these were not able to scale up to take up markets in Kenya and
People in paid (wage) employment
increased between 2002 and 2014, but much more in the Kampala, western, and
central regions than in the eastern and northern regions. This means that a lot more people in
eastern and northern Uganda remain in informal, subsistence and less paying
There is also more formalization in
jobs in Kampala and western Uganda, meaning their quality are better. Also in Agriculture, the report says, business
opportunities are concentrated around the richer towns, especially Greater
“Small, market-oriented farmers and
processors are concentrated in the northern and eastern regions,” the report
says. “Less than one in four are found in
the northern region. They are also much less likely to live in the central
region,” the report says.