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Ugandans are much richer-UBOS

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Ugandan economy is bigger than previously estimated, with new numbers showing Ugandans are much richer than had been thought, according to Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS).

According to UBOS, they rebased the economy using the prices of 2015/16 financial year. This saw Uganda’s size of the economy or Gross Domestic Product (GDP) jump up by 18.3% to Uganda Shillings 108.5trillion in 2016/17 financial year. It had been thought to be just Shs 92trillion that year.

Ubos now is using a new base year of 2015/16 instead of the 2009/10 financial year to calculate Uganda’s value of the economy.

Rebasing is the process of replacing an old base year with a new and more recent base year. A base year provides the reference point to which future values of the GDP are then compared.

In the numbers, released on Thursday evening, Ubos shows that in 2018/19, Uganda’s economy was worth Uganda shillings 122.7tn ($33bn) – up by 11.6% from the previous number published of Shs 110trillion ($30bn).

Aliziki Kaundha Lubega, the director macroeconomics statistics at Ubos, said  the rebasing shows that the industry sector registered the biggest revision of 51.4%. Its contribution to GDP grew from just Shs 19trillion to Shs 28trillion.

This can be an indicator that Ugandans are manufacturing and constructing more than was being reported. Informal mining, oil and gas, and construction activities pushed up the value of this sector.

Agriculture and services sectors were revised by 13% and 9.2% respectively.

Also, net taxes – that is the money collected minus tax holidays – went up by 4.4%.

The new figures mean that Ugandans are richer than previously thought. Taking the 2018/19 figure ($33bn) for instance, it means that each Ugandan now is estimated to earn $891 or Shs 3.1m annually, up from $860 the previous year.

Finance Minister Matia Kasaija said the new figures show that the economy can even grow further if the cost pushers of higher electricity tariff, costly transport are tamed.

However, the new figures don’t mean that every Ugandan earns this money. It could be that richer Ugandans grew their wealth more thus pulling the average earning for all Ugandans.

The industry sector that experienced the biggest revision is not where the poor people are found. Most of them are in agriculture.

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One comment

  1. According to an extensive study of African economic statistics by Morten Jerven reported in his book Poor Numbers:

    “…in most African states the database for aggregating measures of income and growth are weak. For large shares of the economy we have little or no information and the figures involve a great deal of guesswork.” [1]

    As a result there are also serious discrepancies in the data on African economies published in international economic databases. Jerven (2013) notes that the UN reported annual national accounts for 45 sub-Saharan African countries between1991-2004, but it had only received data for less than half of the 1,410 observations, but for 15 countries no data had been received at all. The World Bank also provides data for African countries in constant and current prices even when no figures, accurate or otherwise, have been provided by national statistical offices to undertake the necessary adjustments for inflation. The missing figures are supplied through “a method for filing the data gap”[2] a procedure which Jerven (2013) describes as “unclear.” The result is that different international databases give different rankings about the size, growth rates and living standards of African economies. The same problem is found in many lower income countries in Asia, South and Central America and in the Middle-East.

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