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How Wealthy is Uganda?



 

Uganda is a country where almost all the people have incomes that are less than those you would expect in an MEDC like the UK.

Some figures put the number of people earning less than one US dollar a day at 82 percent of the population. (One US dollar is worth about 50p in the UK.)

Compared to the UK where the average wage is the equivalent of about 125 US dollars per day (£447 per week / £63.86 per day) , this seems a terribly small wage. An average earning Ugandan would have to work for two and a half years to earn the equivalent of one week's wages in the UK!

It's not surprising then, to discover that in 2005 Uganda was ranked 106th in the table of wealthy countries, with the UK at 4th and the USA at 1st position.

In villages, where wages are low, shops are basic and sell low value goods. People can not afford higher priced items so more expensive shops aren't built there.

 

Undoubtedly, most people in Uganda are far less wealthy than most people in the UK. There are some very wealthy people in Uganda, but they tend to be successful business men, and government and army officials such as generals, cabinet ministers and the President.

Although the President claims that there is no corruption in the government,it is clear to any outsider that corruption is a major source of wealth for many Ugandans in positions of power. Cases such as a senior army officer who was put on trial for claiming wages for an entire regiment that didn't even exist, land deals where army officers have 'acquired' land and sold it on, and dubious business deals are common in the newspapers.

 

Corruption makes fair distribution of wealth even harder because money allocated to improving the infrastructure, such as roads, the railway, electricity and water supplies often vanishes. Without constant electricity and good roads, industry cannot produce and distribute products, workers can't be employed,shop keepers can't sell goods and so on.

Although the less wealthy people seem very poor by our standards you must remember that along with lower wages, the prices of many things they need to buy are lower too. For example, a kilogram of good potatoes costs about 20p in Uganda and will cost at least 80p or more in the UK.

An acre of land (4047 square meters) just 10 minutes from the centre of the capital city costs £35,000 in Uganda, and a building plot of 0.08 acres in Streatham, near the centre of London, costs £125,000. At that rate, the £35,000 pounds that would buy 4047 square meters in Uganda would buy you just 9 square meters in Streatham. Uganda can be much less expensive than the UK!

Wealthy Ugandans, and there are plenty who have earned their money honestly as well as those who have become rich through corruption, have enough cash to spend it on luxury and western goods. To cater for their needs, large 'western' style shops exist in main cities, especially in Kampala. Supermarkets, take-aways, book shops etc are all there just as you'd see in western town and cities, but there aren't anyway near as many of them.

In the capital city, Kampala, large western style shops provide goods for wealthier Ugandans and visitors from other countries.
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