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UDB Unveils UGX50 Billion Climate Finance Facility To Promote Green Economy 

  • The Facility is a Special Purpose Vehicle with a unique and specific focus on finance to unlock and catalyze private sector investment in enterprises that drive green impact and financial inclusion.

04th April 2023 – Kampala, Uganda: Uganda Development Bank (UDB), the country’s key strategic partner in delivering socio-economic transformation through sustainable financial interventions, has today launched the UDB Climate Finance Facility (CFF), a strategic Fund that will make available affordable finance that aims to promote climate-smart agriculture, ensure climate resilient infrastructure and low carbon industries.

Addressing guests at the launch, the Managing Director UDB Ms. Patricia Ojangole said; “The increasing threat of climate change and environmental degradation has the potential to present high socio-economic risks to the economy. As the impacts continue to manifest through floods, drought, landslides, animal and crop epidemics among other signs in different parts of the country, they are more deleterious to the poor and marginalized who depend largely on natural resources for their livelihoods.”

Over 70% of Ugandans depend heavily on micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for employment, and these generally have less capacity to withstand financial shocks.

“The vulnerability of Uganda’s population requires the urgent need to adapt and maintain future economic growth opportunities by transitioning to a low carbon (green) economy. This will require massive investment in green technologies. Green finance will be central to providing the flows of capital required. This is primarily driven by the fact that most green technologies are characterized by high capital intensity and consequently high upfront financing requirements,” Ms. Ojangole explained while at the high-level launch held at Mestil Hotel In Kampala.

As a financial intermediary, the Bank will stimulate green economic growth by coordinating green financing options, mobilizing and increasing access to green finance by structuring and providing tailored products to address market gaps including risk mitigation products, and providing the right products to address investment demand in the green sector.

“I would like to thank UDB for this intervention. Without appropriate funding, we cannot build the capacity to adapt to these impacts, to mitigate these impacts, or even build resilience. Am delighted that financial institutions are starting to realize their role in the climate change agenda and strategically getting involved,” Mr. Ramadhan Ggoobi, Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury said at the launch.

The initiative will foster climate-conscious change in investments with a clear objective of building climate resilience among the businesses supported. The intention is to build climate-proof businesses as this is a better strategy for building long-term viable enterprises that are adaptive to climate impacts and seek a low-carbon development pathway.

The move to create a Climate Finance Facility builds on the Bank’s successful initiatives to foster innovation, engender holistic sustainability, and increase interest in green technologies. In line with the Bank’s priority sectors, the facility shall target investments in Climate Smart Agriculture, Low Carbon Industries, Climate Resilient Infrastructure, and cross-cutting projects like sustainable waste management, clean energy – renewable energy and energy efficient projects, sustainable water resources management, eco-tourism, and related investments.

“There have been commendable efforts by the Government in establishing structures and policies to advance climate action. Progress is ongoing in scaling up local community solutions to manage climate impacts. However, it is now time for financial institutions and private sector players to get involved. That’s why we are committing UGX 50 billion towards the capitalization of this facility.This is expected to grow with support from various partners over time,” Ms. Ojangole concluded.

The beneficiaries will also be exposed to the Bank’s Green Investment Advisory as well as the Project Preparation Support to make them bankable but more importantly, grow them to become viable green businesses.


Editors Notes

Eligible Sectors

The facility will target climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives that are aligned with the Bank’s priority sectors. The facility will provide opportunities along value chains and supply chains that target to combat climate change impacts through evidence-based and innovative climate-smart technologies. Target initiatives will include:

  1. Climate Smart Agriculture and Agribusiness
  2. Low carbon industry
  3. Climate Resilient infrastructure
  4. Eco-Tourism
  5. Clean energy
  6. Sustainable waste management

About the Green Fund

  1. Green impact – the facility will target investments that demonstrate how they reduce current and/or future vulnerabilities to climate change impacts, and the efforts to reduce or limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or enhance GHG sequestration both in the short and long run. Investments shall demonstrate compliance to environmental sustainability and climate action.
  1. Other requirements – In addition to the green impact, the applicants will submit other requirements. Requirements for access to funding through the mainstream lending channels can be found at

The Fund will have non-financial benefits

  1. Green Investment Advisory – the Bank will provide technical readiness support to facilitate green enterprises start and/or scale up their businesses through innovation labs/hubs. Prospective clients will get customized training in leadership and governance, financial literacy, business development and climate risk assessment, among other pertinent skills.
  1. Project Preparation and financial structuring – this service will fill the void of inadequate stock of bankable projects that are required to propel development. The Bank will support investments with innovative ideas to conceptualise designs, undertake pre-feasibility and feasibility studies, and financial structuring that guides commercial operations.

Breaking the bias: Supporting women in financial inclusion

Women empowerment is key to the attainment of the agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, Goal 10 on reducing inequalities; Goal 8 on promoting full and productive employment and decent work for all, and Goal 5 on achieving gender equality, cannot be realized without women’s economic empowerment. Achieving these three goals would in turn significantly contribute to other cross-cutting goals that are also in part dependent on women’s economic empowerment like Goal 1 on ending poverty: Goal 2 on food security and Goal 3 on health.

Women play a key role in the economic development of Uganda. They make vast and positive economic contributions through business, agriculture, trade, industry, and domestic care work. In short women today have greater access to /and control over productive resources, assets, and services, political and social representation, meaningful participation in decision-making spaces and processes, and access to decent work.  

Ugandans have marked these milestones mainly due to committing to new ways of thinking about the value of women.

As part of the vanguard of women professionals living and working within this ongoing process of change, I can say with confidence that women now play a crucial role in economic development. This fact is important as it raises the question of how women will shape the shared future of the country.

According to World Bank (2019), women account for 77% of the agricultural labor force. This sector contributes 21% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and accounts for 40% of Uganda’s export earnings while four in every 10 business owners are women (UBOS, 2020).  Women are just as inclined as men to engage in entrepreneurship and therefore just as impacted by the impediments to growth as business owners. It is generally known that women face more challenges than men in starting, managing, and growing their enterprises. This is partly the burden of history, of catching up in acquiring the necessary capacities, skills, and resources due to negative cultural norms and attitudes about women’s roles.

Women have been (and continue to be) less mobile and the unequal demands of domestic responsibilities on women’s time among others have fettered the progress. Despite their role in the agriculture sector and within the small business sector in Uganda, women face a myriad of constraints surrounding access, ownership, and control over the means of production.

According to the UNDP report (2021), women control less than 20% of their output. It is estimated that 69% of all women in Uganda don’t own land and are only granted access through their spouses or other male family members.

When women do not have effective ownership over land, this negatively influences decisions about long-term investments in the land as well as their ability to access financial services since they lack collateral. Relatedly, about 49% of women lack access to or decision-making ability over credit. Women own only 4% of rural land, according to the Islamic Development Bank report 2019.

It is estimated that female farmers’ low access to productive resources and services, in comparison to male farmers, creates a gender gap of 13% in agricultural productivity in Uganda. According to the UN Women Report (2021), eliminating this gap would produce an increase of 2.8% in current crop output and 1.6% in agricultural GDP (about $156 million (USh 562 billion).

In addition to these barriers, crop and livestock value chains should be seen as gendered; men dominate high-value cash crops and larger livestock assets such as cows while women have more authority over food security crops and smaller livestocksuch as poultry. Relatedly, economic opportunity is segmented by gender. Women are more likely to operate in the informal sector, in smaller enterprises, and lower value-added sectors.

Differences in legal capacity and property rights also limit women’s capacity to own and operate businesses, access finance, or own and control the use of productive resources, including land.

Improving women’s access to financial services is a proven strategy for contributing to women’s social and economic empowerment, as well as improving the overall livelihoods of communities in Uganda. Having access to financial services allows women to procure the inputs, labor, and equipment they need for their agricultural and off-farm activities.

Women’s access to finance is constrained by socio-cultural, economic/legal, and in some cases educational barriers.  Women’s access to financial services is also limited by the fact that, in general, they do not possess adequate productive assets or property which can be accepted by formal financial institutions as conventional forms of collateral.

Uganda Development Bank as Bank mandated with the economic development of Uganda launched Special programs to implement and manage interventions in the categories of Women, SMEs, Youth, and Business Advisory Services for both start-ups and existing businesses. Specifically, the Bank established Women Prosper Loans to increase access to affordable and appropriate financial services for women-owned and women-led businesses as an enabler to increased participation of women in the development agenda of Uganda.

The Bank’s women’s financial products and services address the various short-term and long-term business needs of women enterprises, support start-ups and expansion of women businesses, and acquisition of assets to enable and enhance productivity. These products come with many advantages in form of low loan interest rates (10-12%), adequate grace period, and patient capital (1-15 years tenor) among others.

To enhance the products, the Bank provides advisory services to clients about management best practices, good governance, record keeping, financial management, etc based on the Bank’s wider knowledge of the business, operating environment, and experience gained from funding, implementing, and monitoring of such projects. This is done by way of training and technical support to develop and implement the required processes in the businesses. The objective is to have professionally run businesses and enterprises.

As the world celebrates Women’s Day today under the theme, “Breaking the Bias”, we should work towards a world where women everywhere take their rightful place as partners in building the world we want. 

Patricia Ojangole is the Managing Director of Uganda Development Bank

Innovative Green Financing Mechanisms: The Role of Financial Institutions in Enhancing Access to Green Finance

The World Economic Forum Report (2023) presents a significant impact of climate change and environmental risks on economies, societies, and markets. Important to note are the implications for financial stability that cannot be ignored.

Increased severity and frequency of extreme weather events such as floods, landslides, increasing temperatures, heat waves, droughts, pests and diseases can affect resource availability and business operations. This results into adverse business outcomes such as business interruptions and reduced returns. However, it also presents an opportunity for innovative financing to increase the economic and social resilience to climate impacts.

The World Meteorological Organization (2021) estimated global economic losses worth US$ 2.32 trillion between 2000 and 2019 as a result of climate change. As such, there is an undeniable impact on the creditworthiness of investors and therefore a strong link with the credit risk profile of financial institutions.

There is a disproportionately higher impact of climate change on developing countries due to their limited preparedness and less resilience mechanisms. Accordingly, the International Monetary Fund (2022) reckons that emerging and developing economies will need significant climate financing in the future to reduce their emissions and adapt to the physical effects of climate change. Uganda in her recently updated NDCs will need an estimated total cost of US$ 28.1 billion by 2030 to implement the proposed climate action plan. Financing is needed to support climate smart agriculture, clean energy, low carbon industries, climate resilient infrastructure among other priorities.

The urgency to scale up investments in mitigation and adaptation to climate impacts is now a critical issue worldwide. As facilitators of the economy, financial institutions have a central role in the transformation to low carbon and climate-resilient development given their unique position in facilitating the capital flows through their lending, investment and advisory roles, financing of innovative technologies with less stringent conditions and incentives to maximize the impact of such measures.

While credit from financial institutions dominates financing in majority of the businesses in Uganda, only a small portion, is explicitly classified as green. The lack of clarity as to what constitutes green finance interventions and products, such as green loans and green assets, presents an obstacle for investors, enterprises and financial institutions seeking to identify opportunities for green investing. This makes it difficult to efficiently allocate financial resources for green projects and assets.

Whereas green finance definitions are complex, efforts to understand green finance are now converging on the financing of activities that can address climate change risks through mitigation and adaptation and other environmental challenges through natural resource conservation, biodiversity conservation, and pollution prevention and control.

Financial institutions such as the World Bank (2020) provide a guide for developing a common taxonomy. The idea is to identify eligible activities that can be financed more easily and consistently and measure financial flows toward sustainable development priorities to reduce the risk of greenwashing.

While many financial institutions have already taken steps to reduce the direct impact on the environment stemming from their own activities and investments, the European Banking Federation (2017) notes that their main contribution lies in providing financial solutions for climate-sensitive projects for all customer segments including SMEs, large companies, and start-ups.

The Uganda Green Growth Financing and Resource Mobilization Strategy (2021-2025) recognises the market-led initiatives by various financial institutions that have unlocked a range of innovative financing mechanisms to support climate-proofing against future disasters. These include green loans, asset and trade financing, green bonds, green equity investments, risk insurance or credit guarantees, grants, and other de-risking instruments categorized under corporate/investment banking, retail banking, asset management and insurance.

Financial institutions provide term loans for environmental purposes, low carbon technologies and climate adaptation strategies. These are intended to support renewable energy/ energy efficiency projects while innovations such as agricultural insurance are being considered in the field of climate smart agriculture. In addition to the term loans, asset financing allows project developers to access cleaner production technologies without having to purchase the equipment upfront while trade finance supports trade in climate/ environmentally friendly products.

By offering green equity, risks associated with green fields are addressed. Banks hold equity and provide leverage to attract co-investments that require an improvement in the capital structure of potentially bankable projects where the sponsors cannot raise additional equity for application or scale-up of climate smart investments.

Through the credit guarantees, financial institutions unlock local green investments that suffer constraints of lack of collateral, high credit risk, and high start-up costs. Some Financial Institutions provide grants for technical assistance through project preparation support during initial phases from concept development, project design and structuring.

Lately, several banks have started to issue green revolving credit facilities where the margins are linked to the sustainability performance of the borrower. This creates an additional economic incentive for the borrower to improve sustainability.

Financial institutions are also exploring the use of digital technology as a lever for green finance in lending and investments, given their potential to raise awareness and grow businesses through artificial intelligence. A noteworthy example is the launch of the ‘Agri-Connect’ Platform by the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) and Ensibuuko which provides an opportunity for smallholder farmers to access credit through digital solutions that reshape the financial system in ways that align it with environmental sustainability.

Several financial institutions have created green/climate funds that mobilize concessional capital and provide tailored products for green investments through blended instruments. A recently launched Climate Finance Facility at UDB is expected to mobilize green finance, lead and structure deal transactions and build a quality pipeline of investments that demonstrate climate finance engineering solutions in the local market. This is in addition to other already existing funds at national and international level such as the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility, and the Adaptation Fund.

Green frameworks are institutionalized under such entities and provide project screening mechanisms, monitoring, reporting, and verification which give greater confidence to investors. Such facilities also support projects at various stages of development to access capital markets through innovative financing mechanisms such as carbon markets and green bonds to raise further capital.

With their dynamic capacity to power innovation and change, financial institutions have a critical role to play in advancing mitigation and adaptation efforts. They have the ability to scale up solutions that are important in decarbonizing the economy. As such, the growing awareness of the urgency to address climate change and environmental degradation calls for a better alignment of the financial system with green growth policies supporting sustainability while reducing environmental risks.

Pius Wamala is a Senior Green Finance Officer at the Uganda Development Bank.

Financing Women Development Oriented Activities in the Agricultural Value Chain in Uganda

Women play a vital role in Uganda’s agricultural value chain activities ranging from production, post-harvest handling, agro-processing to marketing. According to the recent report by the European Union, women account for 58 percent and 72 percent of the total labour force at production and post-harvest handling stages respectively in Uganda.  Despite the key role that women play along the value chain, they are among the poorest sections of the population. The 2021 Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) revealed that women earn on average only 53% of what men earn (UGX123,000 versus UGX UGX233,000). In addition, the 2018 FINSCOPE survey suggests that 23% of women are currently financially excluded, of which 87% live in rural areas. Women are financially excluded due to lack of collateral, a perception of high risk, and limited knowledge of the loan application processes, among other barriers.

Relatedly, land ownership is a major barrier to women’s fair engagement in the agriculture value chain. In accordance with cultural norms, women typically do not own land in many parts of the country, especially where customary tenure system dominates. This affects their ability to access inputs on credit, control production processes and make decisions regarding the proceeds from agricultural sales. Despite different government interventions to make land accessible to women, most women mainly possess use rights with limited ownership rights. Limitations mainly stem from customary and inheritance factors that favour men, resulting in unbalanced power relations within households.

Other constraints to women’s productive engagement in agriculture include high costs of inputs, poor access to financial and extension services and high transportation costs. Women’s participation in unpaid domestic care work such as childcare activities affect their ability to allocate time to financially rewarding work.  Also, there aren’t sufficient or appropriate extension services in some places to address women’s information and skills needs. Lack of proper extension services, therefore, limits women’s ability to increase the quality and quantity of agricultural yields. In fact, a study on the gender gap in agricultural productivity indicates that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including Uganda, lose about USD 67 million in annual gross domestic product (GDP) due to gender inequality.

Nationally, the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (as amended) puts women in the prime light. It makes various provisions aimed at the empowerment of women, children, persons with disabilities (PWDs), and ethnic minorities, among others. Similarly, the national development plan emphasizes the commercialization of agriculture to increase production and productivity, with intensification of production, agro-processing, and marketing as launch pads. Accordingly, the funding to the agriculture sector value chain over the years has aimed to improve production and productivity. This is done through the distribution of seedlings to farmers and stocking materials; strengthening research and technology development; providing extension services to farmers; improving value addition, agro-processing, post-harvest handling, storage facilities, and market infrastructure; expanding water for production facilities; increasing access to affordable agricultural finance; and enforcing standards and quality assurance to improve market access.

To enhance women inclusion, there have been several funding initiatives for women entrepreneurs devised by the government of Uganda, financial institutions, religious organizations, NGOs and the private sector. Much of the government’s efforts have been geared towards agricultural value chain where women account for 77 percent of the total labour force.

Specifically, Uganda Development Bank, which is mandated with promoting socio-economic development of Uganda, established Special programs to implement and manage interventions in the categories of Women, SMEs and Youth for both start-ups and existing businesses. Regarding women economic empowerment, the Bank established Women Prosper Loans to increase access to affordable and appropriate financial services for women-owned and women-led businesses as an enabler to increased participation of women in the development agenda of Uganda. Women in the agricultural value chain continue to benefit from this UDB funding initiative to start and expand their enterprises at various stages of the agriculture value chain. The UDB Women Prosper Loans are utilized for inputs, storage, machinery, or crop and animal finance among other needs along the value chain.

The Bank’s women’s financial products and services address the various short-term and long-term business needs of women enterprises, support start-ups and expansion of women businesses, and acquisition of assets. These products come with many advantages in form of low loan interest rates (10-12%), adequate grace period, and patient capital (1-15 years tenor) among others.

Additionally, the Bank provides advisory services to women clients about management best practices, good governance, record keeping, financial management, etc. based on the Bank’s wider knowledge of the business, operating environment, and experience gained from funding, implementing, and monitoring of such projects. This is done by way of training and technical support to develop and implement the required processes in the businesses. The objective is to have professionally run businesses and enterprises.

Economic empowerment of women through development financing remains fundamental for sustainable socio-economic development of Uganda in the pursuit to improve the livelihood of Ugandans. There is thus a need to gear up efforts towards sectors that employ most women in the country such as agricultural value chain and sectors key for economic structural transformation like manufacturing to move labor and other resources from low productive to high productive sectors of the economy.

As the world celebrates Women’s Day today, empowering women economically remains key for sustainable development and improved livelihood of Ugandans.

Bob Twinomugisha is a Senior Economist, Macroeconomics and Trade, with the Uganda Development Bank Ltd.

UDB, Partners Launch Financial Technology Solution for Smallholder Farmers in Uganda

  • Over 18,000 smallholder farmers to benefit from the digital loans.
  • AgriConnect is the first digital solution which can offer both a savings and lending option for small-holder famrers in Uganda.

27th March 2023 – Yumbe: Uganda Development Bank (UDB), the country’s national Development Finance Institution, in partnership with Ensibuuko, European Union, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has today launched a Fintech solution dubbed AgriConnect to ease access to digital financing for smallholder farmers in Uganda. 

The innovation, the first digital solution which can offer both a savings and lending option for small-holder famrers in Uganda, will provide a platform for Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLAs) to digitally access short-term seasonal loans and saving products at affordable rates to grow their businesses.

The entire lending process – application, approval, and disbursement –  will be done digitally with the funds credited directly to the farmer’s e-mobile wallet.

Speaking at the launch, Patricia Ojangole the Managing Director of Uganda Development Bank said; “Together with our partners, we have unveiled an innovative Fintech solution aimed at disseminating credit to the mass lower underserved markets consequently driving financial and digital inclusion.”

She added, “The world is fast evolving resultant of advancements in technology, and it is key that as a development finance partner, we recognize such changes and make deliberate effort to back inventions that influence the growth of key sectors of the economy like Agriculture, which employs 68% of the country’s population.”

The pilot project targets to reach at least 1,000 smallholder farmers. The farmers will have access to digital loans to enable them to increase production, intensify food security, and boost household incomes of the farming communities across Uganda. Learnings from the pilot will enable the implementers to scale the solution to impact more farmers with a target of 18,000 at full cycle.  

“The event is special in two ways: It is the launch of Uganda’s first ever digital agricultural loan for savings groups, it is also the first-ever launch of a strategic partnership between the Uganda Development Bank and a Ugandan fintech. Such purposeful collaborations are important for financial inclusion, and will go a long way in validating the maturity of Uganda’s fintech landscape,” said Gerald Otim, CEO at Ensibuuko.

Uganda’s scope of financial services encompassed by Fintech has steadily been increasing and this has been necessitated by network readiness, digital literacy, and mobile phone penetration. According to World Bank, Uganda ranks 172nd on Gross National Income (GNI) and 116th on the Network Readiness Index (NRI), respectively. The country’s Mobile penetration is at 49% and smartphone adoption is at 16%; all of which account for the contribution of the digital economy which contributes 7% to the economy.

“Over the last few decades, digitalization has transformed the way of life world-over, causing varied social and economic changes. Likewise, in Uganda, digitalization continues to take root in shaping various sectors, and specifically the financial services. AgriConnect will reinvigorate and reshape our country Uganda. This indeed is a timely product for Uganda,” said State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization.

“With services like this, Uganda is indeed on a good trajectory to achieve its goals as stipulated in the National Development Plan and Vision 2040.”

Hon. Anite lauded UDB, FAO, UNCDF, EU and Ensibuuko for the critical role in the socio-economic transformation of Uganda and pledged the government’s continued support towards this agenda.

UNCDF reaffirmed its commitment towards boosting financial inclusion in Uganda.

“UNCDF has been involved in advancing access to finance through digital financial services in Uganda for the last seven years. We have seen solutions like digital payments and savings accounts grow significantly in various agri-value chains. The promise of digitalization unlocking financing for farmers still falls behind – yet it holds the greatest value proposition for them,” UNCDF Technical Advisor – Inclusive Digital Economy, Richard Ndahiro said. 

“According to the Findex 2021, digital financial services have enabled more Ugandans to access formal financial services. 66% of Ugandan adults are estimated to have access to an account. However, while 77% of Ugandans borrow money – only 31% borrow from a formal financial institution. Smallholder farmers are top on the list of those excluded from access to formal borrowing. The solution launched today leverages digital innovation to enable access to finance for farmers. This project is one of the ways UNCDF is working with partners and financial services providers to drive digital financial inclusion beyond payments.”

According to FAO, AgriConnect will enhance the agriculture sector and improve farmer livelihoods in Uganda; “FAO believes that Public funding alone is not enough to tackle the world’s most pressing sustainable development challenges – from ending poverty and hunger by 2030 to reducing inequalities. Private investments that generate social or environmental benefits alongside returns can help fill that investment gaps. The pilot solution we are launching today is hoped to boost sustainable private investments in the agrifood sector and improve farmers’ access to digital credit,”  said FAO’s Country Representative in Uganda, Dr Antonio Querido.

The European Union expressed delight for the partnership mentioning that it will set the tone for further deeper and sustainable collaboration in the future, benefitting underserved populations.

In conclusion, MS. Ojangole urged the smallholder farmers in Yumbe District and the neighboring areas to embrace this service which will boost their output and participation in agribusiness and called for more meaningful partnerships.

“I would like to specifically thank our partners Ensibuuko, EU, FAO, and UNCDF for joining us on this journey that aims to transform communities through financial empowerment, which will in the long run boost the performance of Uganda’s agricultural sector,” Ms Ojangole concluded.

Commemorating the International Day of Forests 2023 – Enhancing long term financing for sustainable forest-based industries to contribute to climate action

Every 21st of March, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Day of Forests. Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, this day is meant to celebrate and create awareness about the importance of all types of trees and forests.

The theme for 2023 is”Forests and health”. This is related to the benefits provided by forests for human health such as clean air and water, climate action, forest foods, life-saving medicines, and generally improving our wellbeing. COVID-19 is one of the best reminders of how forests directly or indirectly provide important health benefits to people all over the world. Warburgia Ugandensis commonly known as the greenheart tree (locally known as Mukuzannume), is a medicinal tree whose extracts became an ingredient for making Covidex, an approved herbal medicine for treating viral infections arising from COVID-19 at a time when the world was grappling with medical solutions to manage the Pandemic.

The Forest Investment Program for Uganda (2017) estimates the national GDP contribution of forests to be 5.2%. The report values indirect benefits of forests at UGX 60.8 billion for watershed protection and UGX 56.4 billion for carbon sequestration, among others. Further, the sector supports 94% of household energy for cooking as well as generating tourism revenue, taxes, employment, and household income, and supporting the growth of other sectors such as real estate, construction, energy generation and cottage forest-based enterprises. About 61% of the tourism income is generated by forest-based national parks.

The FAO and UNEP Report (2020) shows that urban and peri-urban forests and trees help to mitigate many of the challenges of living in urban areas – they buffer noise; reduce the urban heat, and provide green space for exercise, recreation, and recovery from stress. The same report presents economic opportunities through forest foods some of which are widely traded – e.g., the global market for edible mushrooms, many of which are collected from forests, has a value estimated at USD 42 billion per year.

Whereas the benefits of trees and forests are enormous, the Annual Programme Performance Report (2022) by the Ministry of Water and Environment indicates a decrease in forest cover from 24.1% in 1990 to 13.3% in 2019.

Yet, according to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the rising trend in zoonotic diseases is caused by, among others, increased degradation of the natural ecosystems such as forests. Loss of forest habitats increases contact between humans and non-human primates and the transmission of diseases from animals to humans.

The decreasing forest cover is largely attributed to the rising population pressure and urbanization resulting into expansion of agricultural land and settlement areas. General as these reasons may seem, confessions around the limited financial resources to implement and enforce policy actions, lack of more biting penalties for impunitive behaviour and lack of coordination still manifest.

Nonetheless, it is only fair to appreciate the substantial progress made in restoring the forest cover from 9.5% in 2015 to 13.3% by 2019. Concerted efforts of state and non-state actors to restore degraded areas through eviction of encroachers and targeted awareness can be hugely applauded as we celebrate this important day. The Government’s pledges through commitments such as the Bonn Challenge to restore 2.5 million hectares by 2030 and the campaign to plant 40 million trees particularly indigenous species, every year are efforts that cannot be downplayed.

During the International Day of Forests, people all over the world are encouraged to organize activities that foster sustainable forest management such as tree growing campaigns. Equally important is to reflect on long term financing for the forestry sector – how can sustainable forestry investments and projects be packaged more appropriately to benefit from affordable product solutions offered by financial institutions?

The Forest Policy Service of the FAO noted that the private sector is the main source of financing for forestry investments and the amount of financing and diversity of investors has increased rapidly in recent years. Currently, it is estimated that the private-sector accounts for about 80 – 90% of financing for forestry. Forest management is capital intensive and a long-term investment. This is particularly true in the case of tree planting. Forests are often not accepted as collateral for credit; lending policies favour short-term loans with low risks as opposed to long term maturity periods of trees, while inadequate information and limited understanding of the sector contributes to an inflated perception of risk in forestry; and interest rates are often high with short pay back periods. Such challenges limit access to affordable credit.

Despite the challenges associated with access to credit, the contributions of forests to economic development, social well-being and the environment are increasingly becoming important. This opportunity is being seized by financial institutions who are now targeting innovative financing mechanisms for the sector. These mechanisms may generate new sources of revenue and help to make investments in sustainable forest management more attractive and feasible. It is necessary to examine how to expand and diversify financing mechanisms and sources of finance.

Reducing risks and uncertainty that arise particularly from the high capital investments and long maturity periods of the forestry investments are vital if we are to increase funding and financing. Minimising and mitigating risks includes creating more flexible financing mechanisms and borrowing conditions, assessment of the investment risks, and provision of technical assistance.

This is where the Uganda Development Bank makes a difference through her green finance products – the green loans, equity, guarantees and grants blended with debt. In our view, access to finance especially for SMEs is a crucial component of efforts to restore, climate proof and conserve more productive landscapes.

The Bank is effectively increasing the provision of loans to bankable and innovative businesses in the forestry value chain that are sustainable and provide improved livelihood opportunities to local people. These would ideally include businesses that focus on producing for local, national, and international markets, as well as businesses in the secondary sector, such as agroprocessing. To strengthen forestry industries, activities to be financed could include forestry inputs, machinery or equipment, technology, and digitalization.

Sustainable use and value addition to forest resources can potentially increase incomes and employment for climate smart development. Development of a market and supply chain for different forest products and services has potential to improve smallholder livelihoods through enterprises producing solid wood products and pulp and paper industries highly contributing to import substitution and socio-economic transformation.

Pius Wamala is a Senior Green Finance Officer at the Uganda Development Bank.

UDB Posts Strong Growth, Supports economic recovery in 2022

  • Bank forecasts economic rebound in 2023.

10th February 2023 – Hoima: Uganda Development Bank (UDB), the country’s national Development Finance Institution, has today announced excellent results for 2022 reflecting strong investment in various businesses across the country, improved livelihoods and heavy support towards the economic recovery and resilience of Uganda. 

In 2022, UDB registered a 52% gross loan portfolio growth from Shs851 Billion in December 2021 to Shs1,298 Billion in December 2022. The Bank’s total assets currently stand at UGX1.44 Trillion, growing by 19% from UGX1.21 Trillion at the start of 2022. This growth is on account of growth in funding, mainly through capital allocations from government and draw down of lines of credit from various our other funding partners. 

“This performance is anchored on the Bank’s deliberate efforts towards the revitalization and transformation of Uganda’s economy,” said UDB’s Managing Director, Patricia Ojangole.

“This gives usconfidence that we are on track to achieve our strategic objectives.”

Uganda has lived through major socio-economic shocks in the last three years including Covid-19, adverse climate and the impacts from geopolitical shocks. UDB remains consistent in supporting the government in the delivery of national objectives.

“Our product portfolio has been designed to support key priority sectors to achieve their full potential which aligns with the country’s strategic direction and National Development Plan III,” Ojangole said.


The value of new loan applications approved to receive fundings grew by 40% against the 2021 performance registering a total of Shs894 Billion from the Shs635 Billion registered in 2021.

The Industry sector (comprising of manufacturing and agro industry) received the highest number of approvals worth Shs454.75 Billion with primary agriculture receiving Shs96.75 billion.


The Bank disbursed a total of Shs776.6 billion during the year 2022, improving by 81% from Shs428 billion disbursed the previous year 2021. Of this sum, 76% was disbursed to projects engaged in agriculture, agro-processing and manufacturing.

Supporting underserved sectors of the economy

In 2022, the Bank launched the Special Programs intervention which has effectively implemented several strategies, with a focus on channeling interventions to promote small and medium-sized firms (SMEs), as well as businesses run by women and youth within the Bank’s supported sectors.

After a year of implementation, the Bank approved over UGX31.5 billion, with 128 enterprises (including 42 women-owned) benefitting from this program under this program.

To further support these businesses, the Bank further launched the Business Accelerator for Successful Entrepreneurship (BASE) aimed at preparing entrepreneurs for financing through enhanced business practices.

“In 2022 alone, 08 regional training sessions targeting 1,130 SMEs were conducted in Kampala, Mbarara, Fort Portal, Lira, Gulu, Arua, Masaka, and Mbale districts. As a result of these sessions, the Bank identified funding prospects amounting to Shs147.3 billion. Additionally, 77 hitherto informal enterprises undertook various business formalization processes – with 45 registering their business names and 37 others formally registering as new taxpayers or for tax certification,“ Ojangole says.

“Conversely, the Bank earmarked 274 enterprises to participate in the inaugural UDB Business Incubation Program to be held this year, the aim of which is to facilitate the incubatees to be credit-ready, and potentially prospective customers of UDB.“

Direct Impact of our intervention

UDB’s mandate is to accelerate social economic development in the country through sustainable financial interventions. Consistent with its mandate, the Bank supports projects within the private sector that demonstrates potential to deliver high social economic value, in terms of job creation, improved production output, tax contribution and foreign exchange generation among other outcomes. The projects approve for the year are expected will generate 35,372 new direct jobs, and Shs9.35 Trillion Billion worth of output value/turnover from firms financed. These are further expected to generate Shs393.79 Billion in tax revenue to the government and attract foreign exchange earnings of Shs1,58 Trillion. 72% of the 249 projects are within primary agriculture, agro-processing and manufacturing.

Speaking at the event, Hon. Jenepher Namuyangu, Minister of State for Bunyoro Affairs mentioned, “I would like to take this opportunity and thank the management and staff of UDB for extending support to all regions of the country and specifically to the agriculture sector because Uganda is an agrarian country.  Government recognizes the efforts of stakeholders like UDB who intervene in accelerating the growth for key sectors like; agriculture, tourism, human capital development, among others which are in line with the governments National Development Plan 3 (NDP III)

“I am pleased to know that Bwendero Dairy Farm is a beneficiary of funding from UDB, and I believe the support has enabled them to expand their operations and, in the end, improve the livelihoods of our people in Hoima and the surrounding areas who are directly or indirectly impacted by the existence of Bwendero Dairy farm.”

Mr. John Magara, the proprietor of Bwendero Dairy Farm, appreciated the Bank for the support which has enabled them to install a sugar plant in Kitoba Village Hoima District which operated at 38.6% in 2021 and whose performance has since greatly improved doubling to 77.3%, producing 580 tons per day in 2022.

“The farm has been able to diversify its operations to sugar processing, distillery, and milling, hence producing brown sugar, maize flour, pharmaceutical ethanol, among others,” Magara disclosed.



Global Credit Rating Co ltd (GCR) has assigned Uganda Development Bank Limited (‘UDB’) national scale issuer private ratings of AA+(UG)/A1+(UG) in the long and short term respectively, a notch below the highest possible rating with the outlook accorded as Stable.

At the same time, GCR has also assigned UDB an international scale long term issuer private rating of B with a Stable outlook balancing for the operating environment to remain vulnerable to domestic and geopolitical instability.

GCR Ratings, an affiliate of Moody’s Investors Services has established itself as the leading ratings agency in Africa, accounting for the majority of all ratings accorded on the African continent providing critical insights into credit across a range of sectors in the continent, with local presence in Mauritius, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Senegal.

Positioned as the Government of Uganda’s policy financial institution, UDB’s interventions are targeted to the high priority sectors that are otherwise deemed riskier with low penetration of private credit. These are Primary Agriculture; Agro-Processing; Manufacturing; Tourism & Hospitality; Health; Education; and Infrastructure. The Bank has built a long track record and support (both financial and non-financial) from the government has strengthened and as such the Bank has experienced rapid growth over the last 3 – 4 years, with total assets increasing twofold due to shareholder capital contributions that have been aimed at supporting countercyclical measures.

Other key highlights from the GCR Ratings include the following.

  1. Capitalization is a ratings strength, reflected in the very strong GCR leverage ratio of 86% at FYE21, up 300bps from the prior year.
  2. UDB is a low leveraged entity with capital structure that is dominated by equity though the position is projected to decline albeit maintaining a strong level. GCR Ratings projects equity contribution to decline to around 65% over the next 12-18months, with continued countercyclical interventions.
  3. Funding is stable with equity dominating the capital structure, while debt funding is also long term with limited covenants.
  4. While funding is still modestly diversified, GCR Ratings expects to see gradual diversification over the medium term with a handful of new funders already in the pipeline.
  5. Liquidity on the other hand is good, supported by a liquid assets/total borrowings coverage of c.2.5x as at 31 Dec. 2021.
  6. The weighted average term of the loan book is considerably shorter than average term of funding and hence the Bank maintains positive asset/liability gap across all maturities.

Caution: According to GCR Ratings, asset quality presents a critical focus area for the bank.

The loan book is largely exposed to the agriculture sector (split between primary and Agro processing) and manufacturing representing  50% and 24% of total loans at FYE21 respectively, and GCR Ratings believes this exposure will continue to underpin trend in asset quality metrics over the Bank’s strategic horizon as the country (and the global economy) fights inflation, supply chain constrains, and comparatively slow recovery from the pandemic and the geopolitical tensions spurred by the Russia – Ukraine conflict.

Commenting on the bank’s achievement, UDB’s Managing Director, Patricia Ojangole, welcomed GCR Ratings’ assessment as a true reflection of the national realties amidst challenging economic times specifically to the credit starved but critical sectors for Uganda’s development.

She said “UDB champions access to financial services with the aim of accelerating socio-economic development through sustainable financial interventions in line with the country’s development priorities. The assessment by GCR Ratings is a vote of confidence that the Bank’s processes are designed to enable timely access to credit which in the long run influences business growth and economic progress.”

“We also thank our shareholder, the Government of Uganda and all our stakeholders who have continuously supported and guided UDB towards the achievement of our goals. Over the next 12 months, the bank is set to maintain a mix of growth and asset quality management strategies as sustainability frontiers, leverage on the existing development partnerships while building a pool of sustainable funding lines as we inspire Uganda’s development.’’

The positive rating attained by UDB is an addition to last year’s performance where the bank was named Sustainability Leader of the Year 2022 in the 2022 Global Sustainable Finance Awards which were held in Germany.


UDB, Ms. Ojangole win Global Sustainable Finance Award for the Second Year Running

5th December 2022 – Kampala, Uganda. Uganda Development Bank and its Managing DirectorMs. Patricia Ojangole have been named Sustainability Leader of the Year 2022 at the Karlsruhe Sustainability Awards Ceremony that was held during the Global Sustainable Finance Conference which took place on 1 and 2 December 2022 in Germany.

Awarded by the International Council of Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative (SSCI) for Value Driven Financial Institutions, the accolade is given to individuals and/or institutions that demonstrate commitment to creating value for all their stakeholders and protecting the environment.

“Uganda Development Bank continues to lead the process of promoting sustainability, not only in the country, but across Africa and in the wider world. It started by transforming its own bank to become a Sustainability Certified Financial Institution and has successfully demonstrated remarkable achievements in its corporate performance through delivering social, environmental, and economic value to Ugandan businesses and society,” said Arshad Rab, the Chairman of the International Council of Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative and CEO of European Organisation for Sustainable Development, during the Award ceremony.

“Today, UDB supports financial institutions from across the world through heading the I-LEAD Group that stands for Innovate, Learn and Develop, which is a part of the Sustainability Standards and Certification Initiative (SSCI), for complying with the rigorous sustainability standards. The Bank under the leadership of its Managing Director Ms. Patricia Ojangole also ensures that the web-based Sustainability Standards Implementation and Management System (S-SIMS) serves its purpose and enables the applicants of Sustainability Certification in seamlessly implementing the standards.”

Won for the second time consecutively, this recognition comes at a time when UDB is seeking Recertification under SSCI Version 2, after the successful implementation of the SSCI Version 1 where the Bank was awarded Level 5 Certification, the highest level in the certification process.  

“As a forward-looking institution, we continue to challenge ourselves to be better every day. The task ahead of us, for sustainable industrialization of our country is challenging.  In this regard, UDB   remains conscious about the sustainability of its operations and the related impacts on the society, the economy and the environment in which it operates. With the support of the International Council of Sustainability, our valued customers, shareholders, other stakeholders and the wider SSCI community, we will continue to achieve our ambitious goal of not only future proofing our institution, but the economy at large through our interventions,” Ms. Ojangole said.

“We thank our shareholder, the Government of Uganda who continue to support and guide UDB towards the achievement of our goals.”

UDB, through its institutional purpose to improve the quality of life of Ugandans, continues to advance socio-economic transformation in Uganda through the provision of appropriate financial and non-financial solutions.


The role of UDB in socio-economic development of Uganda over the last 60 years of Independence.

By Bob Twinomugisha

Bob Twinomugisha, Senior Economist, Macroeconomics and Trade

Uganda Development Bank (UDB) was established in 1972 by a presidential decree purposely to finance technically feasible, economically viable and socially desirable projects.

Between 1973 and 1985, UDB financed 691 projects worth US$170 million with major investments in the industry, livestock, fish processing, tea, coffee, cotton, sugar, and cement sectors among others. The civil unrest that the country experienced between 1982 and 1994, adversely affected the Bank’s performance creating a slowdown in project implementation and project supervision resulting in a distressed investment portfolio.

By 1996, the Bank suffered huge accumulated losses and servicing external credit was a burden to the Government of Uganda. The Bank also experienced high rates of non-performing loans (NPLs) linked to poor collections at the time.

In 1997, the Government of Uganda, implemented deliberate efforts to revamp UDB operations. The GOU placed UDB under restructuring (till 2000), purposely to turn round the Bank (into an efficient, self-sustaining institution, well-capitalized & with adequate reserves).

New lending was frozen at the time. In May 2001, Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDBL) was incorporated for autonomy and the Bank’s Turn-round process commenced.

The Bank’s mandate was redefined to profitably promote and finance viable economic development projects in Uganda.

The investment portfolio was restructured. The profitable projects were retained while the non-performing assets (NPAs) were moved to Non-Performing Assets Recovery Trust’s (NPART).

From 2013 to date, there has been a renewed growth trajectory year-on-year across the entire institutional portfolio (capital, lines of credit & investment of reflows, asset base, profitability, human, and technology among others).

The Bank’s total assets increased by 60,110% from Ush.199.3 billion in 2013 to Ush. 1.2 trillion in 2021. The Bank’s growth is attributed to the good governance, astute leadership, and strict adherence to compliance.

Uganda Development Bank is the country’s Development Finance Institution mandated with the social and economic development of Uganda. The Bank provides financial and non-financial services to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and largescale enterprises in key growth sectors including agriculture, industry, tourism, infrastructure, human capital development and other cross cutting areas such as Climate Change, SMEs, Women and Youth among others purposely, to reduce poverty levels, build sustainable food system and industrialize Uganda, as we strive to improve the livelihood of Ugandans.

The financial products offered by the Bank include term loans, asset finance, private equity, trade and working capital, project finance and farmer group financing.

In 2021, the Bank introduced non-financial products i.e, Business Accelerator for Successful Entrepreneurship (BASE) and project preparation services. Through BASE, the Bank provides advisory services to clients pertaining to management best practices, good governance, record keeping, and financial management among others. This is done, by way of training and technical support, to develop and implement the required processes in the businesses. The objective is to have professionally run businesses and enterprises which in result reduces the risk of default of financed projects.

UDB also provides project preparation services to fill the gap of inadequate stock of bankable projects that are required to propel development, including public projects.

The Bank supports in moving identified projects from concept design, pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies, financial structuring and to commercial operations.

Fundamentally, UDB has played a key role in addressing the key failures and distortions in the credit market through provision of cheaper loans for medium to long term projects.

Currently, the Bank provides concessional loans, 10-12 percent interest rates per annum.

Secondly, UDB continues to play a counter-cyclical stabilization role by scaling up lending operation when other financial institutions experience temporary difficulties in providing credit to private sector.

For instance, the Bank increased its disbursements to key growth sectors during Covid-19 pandemic period of up to Ush. 589 billion (Aug 2020-Dec 2021).

Thirdly, it plays a risk absorption role for the state during economic downturns. This has been done by revamping collapsing industries and supporting the sectors in dire need for credit during a crisis (crisis resolution vehicle).

During the pandemic, the Bank supported the hardest hit sectors such as tourism and education. In 2020 and 2022, UDB in partnership with European Union, allocated funds in form of grants attached to a loan to enable the tourism sector to revive through the hardship of Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bank also offered moratorium to the education sector, refinanced development projects from other financial institutions, and increased support for the manufacturing sector in the drive to promote import substitution and export-oriented production during Covid-19 crisis, about Ush. 163 billion was disbursed between August 2020 and December 2021.

Over the last 5 decades, UDB has been striving to maximizing social welfare more as opposed to profit maximization, charging low interest rates, low appraisal fees, offering patient capital and adequate grace period. The Bank has been driving economic structural transformation through industrialization, agricultural productivity, infrastructure development and contributing to the transition of enterprises from the informal to the formal sector.

The manufacturing and agriculture sectors account for over 75 percent of the Banks’ portfolio, signaling increased investment towards economic transformation.

UDB has significantly contributed to inclusive growth and rural development by providing specialized products to sectors such special programs to benefit the SMEs, Women, and the Youth.

Import substitution and export promotion

The Bank promotes foreign trade through interventions like export enhancement and import substitution. Of recent, the Bank launched an import replacement/substitution and export-oriented program. This initiative supplemented the trade and working capital solutions, which the Bank has been offering over the last 5 decades.

Additionally, the Bank continues to promote the development of entrepreneurs. It facilitates entrepreneurship development by providing training to entrepreneurs to develop leadership and business management skills.

To this effect, UDB established Business Accelerator Program for Successful Entrepreneurship (BASE).

The Bank also co-finances with the private sector, mainly in development projects that need relatively large capital. UDB has an equity unit that can invest up to 25%, into identified projects that require equity to unlock their potential.

Development Banks (DBs) have historically been established for economic and social reasons.

Typically, they are set up to address the cost and hence scarcity of financing, and other market failures that may limit investment and consequently, slow growth.

Development Banks have also been established in countries to complement the credit that existing financial intermediaries provide, and to promote specific market niches such as green financing.

In fact, Development Banks have been identified as fundamental institutions to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, to modernize and expand existing infrastructure in developing and developed economies, which all work to lift millions of people out of poverty.

The UN estimates that $5 trillion to $7 trillion per year between 2015 and 2030, is needed to achieve a set of SDGs globally, with the estimates being $3.3 trillion to $4.5 trillion per year in developing countries, mainly for basic infrastructure, food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, health and education.

Worldwide, several economies have achieved high growth rates and faster social economic transformation by undertaking key development projects whose success have been facilitated by a relatively lower cost of capital.

These economies have exploited the advantages that development banks have, over other forms of banking Institutions in relation to access to development capital and keeping the cost of capital low.

For instance, development banks have played and continue to play a crucial role in the rapid Industrialization of Asian and European Countries i.e., the growth of Japan and China as global economic powers, is partly due to the role of national development banks in providing unrestricted credit to finance large infrastructure projects.

At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the Government implemented a raft of measures to support the resilience and a faster recovery of the country’s economy.

As part of these measures, the government committed to capitalize UDB with Shs1 trillion.

UDB continues to accelerate socio-economic development through sustainable financial interventions in priority sectors in line with the National Development Plan (NDPIII) and Vision 2040.

BADEA extends USD20 million to UDB for private sector development

  • USD10 million trade finance line of credit will be used exclusively to finance eligible import transactions from the Arab countries .
  • USD10 million will be used exclusively to finance eligible private sector projects for the benefit of sub borrowers within Uganda.

5th October 2022 – Kampala, Uganda. The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA)has today approved a USD20 Million funding line to Uganda Development Bank Ltd (UDB), the country’s national Development Finance Institution, aimed at supporting the private sector in Uganda.

The two organizations have signed agreements to augment the commitment witnessed by the by H.E. Dr. Fahad Aldossari, the Chairman Board of Directors BADEA and Mrs. Patricia Ojangole, the Managing Director UDB.

The funding will be extended to the critical sectors of the economy; USD10 million trade finance line of credit will be used exclusively to finance eligible import transactions from the Arab countries and USD10 million will be used exclusively to finance eligible private sector projects for the benefit of sub-borrowers within Uganda.

This new funding will go a long way in bridging financing gaps in the key economic and productive sectors particularly Primary Agriculture, Agro-Industry and Manufacturing,” Ms Patricia Ojangole, the Managing Director UDB said during signing of the agreements at Speke Resort Munyonyo – Kampala.

UDB’s relationship with BADEA’s dates back to 1985 when the Bank acquired its’ first line of credit to support the private sector. BADEA has previously extended to UDB four lines of credit that have all been fully utilized.

“Today’s new funding of USD20 million will bring the total number of lines of credit extended to the Bank by BADEA to six (06), a clear demonstration of BADEA’s commitment to support UDB in its aspiration of fostering Uganda’s socio-economic development. It is also testament to the confidence of our stakeholders in the Bank and the role it is playing, and aligns with UDB’s ambition to diversify its funding base thereby enable it to address the continually growing demand for patient capital,” Ms Ojangole adds.

In her closing remarks, Ms Ojangole applauded BADEA’s support and reiterated the Bank’s commitment towards delivering its mandate of improving the quality of life of Ugandans.