Aga Khan Development Network

Uganda home

Social Development

Economic Development

Programme Development Partners

Other Countries


"For two generations now, those who care about African development have been seeking an important key, searching for the best way to improve the quality of human life by advancing the pace of economic development. One of the most promising outcomes of that search was the creation of a new set of venture capital institutions ready to invest in projects which traditional private investors were less likely to support."

HH the Aga Khan speaking at the Official Opening of the Kampala Serena Hotel (10 November 2006)

Economic Development

The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), which works to strengthen the role of the private sector in developing countries by promoting entrepreneurial activity and supporting private sector initiatives, has several initiatives and projects in Uganda.

Financial Services
Established 60 years ago, Diamond Trust Bank has matured into a fully fledged commercial banking group in East Africa.Established 60 years ago, Diamond Trust Bank has matured into a fully fledged commercial banking group in East Africa.Originally established in the 1930s and 1940s (reincorporated in 1992), the Jubilee Insurance Company of Uganda Limited (JICU) offers both life and non life insurance. It is now the largest insurer in the country. It was voted the number one insurer by the Association of Uganda Insurance Brokers in both 2006 and 2007. JICU is listed in the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) and the company’s commitment to service is supported by ISO 9001 certification.

Diamond Trust Bank was founded in the 1930s to help recycle local savings into loans for home building and small businesses. It operates today as a regional bank with branches in Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, offering a range of retail banking products. Diamond Trust Bank has over 25 branches in 9 districts in Uganda.

Industrial Promotion Services
Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), which was set up in 1963 to encourage and expand private enterprise in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, operates several infrastructure projects, including a large-scale hydroelectric power plant, as well as a number of key industries in Uganda.

The West Nile Rural Electrification Company supplies electricity to the West Nile region. Commissioned in 2012, the 3.5MW Nyagak mini hydroelectric plant now provides a renewable source of energy in an area where only one percent of the rural population of 1.4 million had access to electricity previously.

A first of its kind, the project was also the first in Africa to qualify under the World Bank-administered Prototype Carbon Fund, which generates funds for sustainable development through the purchase of project-based greenhouse gas emission reductions that are consistent with the Kyoto Protocol, the framework of Joint Implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Supported by the Government of Uganda, the World Bank and German Development Institutions, the West Nile project provides an attractive model for rural electrification not only in Uganda but for Africa more broadly. A steady supply of electricity has already had an impact on the functioning of hospitals and schools, as well as on the growth of entrepreneurial activity in general and in basic agro-based industries in particular.

The 250MW and $860m Bujagali Hydropower Project in Uganda was fully commissioned in 2012. This is a “run-of-river” facility on the River Nile eight kilometres downstream from Lake Victoria, re-using the flow from upstream facilities to generate additional power. Bujagali Energy Limited (BEL) is a special purpose company in which AKFED is the leading promoter and Sithe Global Power of the USA is a major shareholder and the technical partner. Other project partners include the Government of Uganda, the International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, PROPARCO (France) and DEG (Germany). As the region’s first, large privately financed hydroelectric power project, Bujagali is expected to improve the investment climate in Uganda significantly. Bujagali is one of the largest independent power plants in sub-Saharan Africa.

IPS has also made investments in several key industries, including Kampala Pharmaceutical Industries, the largest manufacturer of pharmaceutical drugs in Uganda. It manufactures essential quality medicines in a range of therapeutic areas with a special emphasis on malaria, which is a major contributor to the burden of disease in East Africa. The company, which manufactures a range of over 70 registered products in Uganda , also exports to Tanzania and Kenya.

Another IPS investment, Uganda Fishnet Manufacturers Limited, provides a locally manufactured supply of quality fishnets, an essential product for one of Uganda’s most significant export industries. Leather Industries of Uganda, a tannery acquired through divestment by the Government under the privatisation programme, produces wet blue, crust and finished leather mainly for the export market.

Tourism Promotion Services
In November 2006, President Museveni inaugurated the refurbishment of the Kampala Serena Hotel (formerly the Nile Hotel). The US$30.5 million refurbishment of the hotel over a 17-month period included an expansion of the number of rooms to 152 and creation of a state-of-the-art conference centre capable of catering to 1,500 delegates, making it an important venue for international conferences.

The hotel is one of the largest employers in the country. In keeping with AKFED’s policy, emphasis is placed on hiring locally. The hotel employs some 420 staff directly; of these, 97 percent are Ugandan nationals, while three percent are East African. Direct and indirect benefits positively impact a number of industries that supply goods and services to the hotel.

In October 2009 the Lake Victoria Serena Resort opened on the shores of Africa’s largest lake. This tranquil resort, which directly employs over 225 Ugandans, has been positioned so as to offer both a contrast and an extension to the 5-star profile of the flagship Kampala Serena Hotel, thus ensuring that the Serena portfolio embraces more of Uganda’s social and corporate life.

Plans for further tourism projects in Uganda are under consideration as part of Tourism Promotion Services’ (TPS) mandate to promote tourism by building, rehabilitating and managing hotels, resorts and lodges that contribute to economic growth in an environmentally and culturally sensitive manner.

Media Services
The Nation Media Group, founded in Kenya in 1960, acquired Monitor Publications Limited in 2001. Headquartered in Kampala, the Daily Monitor, Uganda’s only independent daily, was established in 1992 and has since grown into a multimedia group with offices across the country. In addition to publishing the Daily and Sunday Monitor, Monitor Publications Limited also operates an FM radio station, 93.3 KFM-Kampala. The Nation Media Group’s regional publication, The East African, also has a bureau in Kampala and significant circulation in Uganda.

In 2006, the Nation Media Group launched NTV to provide high quality television programming to the Ugandan audience. The station has quickly gained viewership and has raised standards of television programming in Uganda to international levels.

Air Uganda commenced operations in 2007 as Uganda’s national carrier based at Entebbe and serves Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar-es Salaam, Zanzibar, Juba, Kigali and Bujumbura.Air Uganda commenced operations in 2007 as Uganda’s national carrier based at Entebbe and serves Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar-es Salaam, Zanzibar, Juba, Kigali and Bujumbura.Aviation Services
IPS has also made investments in air transport as part of a strategy to ensure regional air links in east and West Africa. In 2007, Air Uganda took to the skies as the country’s national carrier and now serves Nairobi, Mombasa, Dar-es Salaam, Zanzibar, Kigali, Bujumbura and Juba, with plans to increase the number of flights to other key regional destinations in the future. Flying from its base at Entebbe airport, the airline is part of AKFED’s Groupe Celestair, an alliance structure or African regional airlines which also has a presence in West Africa. A symbol of pride for Ugandans, the endeavour is also regarded by government as a key element in transforming the country into a more accessible tourism and investment destination.

Return to top