The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Uganda expanded 4.73 percent in the first quarter of 2014 which in fact is lower than the average GDP growth rate –6.84 Percent — measured from 2005 until 2014 according to recent data from Uganda Bureau of Statistics. To be optimistic, that can be considered a recovery if we look at the fact that the the growth rate hit an all-time low record of 1.35 Percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Even to be more optimistic, are the prospects of new emerging industries that will further boost the economy. Now you don’t need to be a number-crunching economist first to know them. These can help you make career moves, or if you’re an entrepreneur, these industries present new investment opportunities.
E-commerce is just hot out of the oven right now. Even though they have been earlier attempts into the e-commerce sector, high costs of data and low internet rates simply frustrated the growth of e-commerce. Now, with internet rates going lower and penetration approaching 17%, Venture Capitalist firms like Rocket Internet couldn’t wait any longer to aggressively enter the virgin market.
The VC is behind mega e-commerce site Jumia operational in more than 5 African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda. It’s also backing Easy Taxi, Nigeria’s Taxi booking App, car classifieds site Carmudi, Jovago Africa’s leading online hotel booking platform, Lamudi the online real estate platform that just launched in Uganda, helloFood, online food ordering system, online marketplace- Kaymu also in Uganda among others.
However, we aren’t just talking about Rocket Internet-backed Internet companies. There are countless e-commerce sites popping up almost each week such as Paple Rayn Fashion, ZIDI, Dondolo Shop, Remzak, Eyetrade, Shop 24/7 that we have tried to keep track of. Recently MTN Uganda announced that its mobile money platform would conveniently enable users to pay for goods and services online on some select e-commerce sites. This of course solved the online payment question that previously eluded online businesses.
This is an unexpected entrant on the list. But if you have been keen, the automotive industry is without doubt an emerging industry in Uganda. Started as a university project by students of Engineering at Makerere University, the Kiira EV, the first fully fledged electric vehicle in East and Central Africa made its first road test in 2011. With the help of Kiira Motor Corporation (KMC), a fully registered government-owned automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer, Uganda is set to start car production in 2018.
To fast-track these plans, 100 acres of land in Kagogwa village in Kakira Town Council, Jinja District have been allocated for the manufacturing plant. The automotive industry is said to help set off peripheral businesses that will employ even more people than KMC itself.
Digital media like e-commerce is still in its early stages. Championed by the widespread adoption of social media specifically Facebook, digital media is catching the attention of brands, publishing companies, marketing agencies and yes government.
Digital advertising is said to grow in the next couple of years as businesses leverage on digital platforms to reach their audiences. Already there are a number of digital agencies such as Blu Flamingo, Platinum Media, Virtual Trends. Web native newspapers such as Chimpreports are giving mainstream media — who by the way have also embraced the digital wave — a run for their money.
Oil and Gas Industry
Uganda is said to have 2.5 billion barrels of oil. The oil found so far lies in the Albertine Region but other basins that may have oil deposits are the Hoima basin, the Lake Kyoga basin, and the Kadam-Moroto basin. In the global perspective, Uganda’s one or two billion barrels come after global giant Saudi Arabia, with 263 billion barrels of reserves, Iraq 140 billion barrels, Libya with 46 billion, Nigeria 37 billion, USA with 26.8 billion, and Angola 9.5 billion. You can view the entire list here.
Anglo-Irish company, Tullow Oil PLC is currently in-charge of the oil mining but has Total SA, a French ‘oil major,’ and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), as partners in the oil business in Uganda.
Instead of exporting crude oil, Uganda will instead opt to build its own oil refinery and export the surplus to the world. But Oil mining will require skilled labor, it will spur infrastructural development, better service delivery and hopefully help Uganda come out of the poverty trap. You can enlighten yourself with the development of the Oil industry in Uganda using this remarkable site.
Software companies will ultimately power all these emerging industries. Global software consulting firm, ThoughtWorks opened firm in Kampala in 2012 and has been in operation for two years so far attracting a pool of top-notch software developers. The App economy is also taking its toll on the Ugandan Tech ecosystem. Kola Studios has so far developed a highly popular gaming mobile App called “Matatu” among 5 other games up its shelves while this little known Indie developer has an App with over a half a million downloads.
The underlying driver of these emerging industries will be Technology. You can count on us to keep you informed with the latest developments with insightful and in-depth reporting from some of the best reporters, bloggers and Journalists around.