The Pearl of Africa, as Uganda is nicknamed, lies at the heart of the continent. Expats moving here need not worry about 'roughing it out in Africa'. Uganda may be landlocked, but it doesn’t disappoint in terms of impressively diverse landscapes, from waterfalls and lakes to the glaciated and snow-peaked Rwenzori Mountains.
Straddling the equator, Uganda has relatively pleasant weather year-round, albeit humid. Ugandan people are equally warm, famous for their hospitality and welcoming nature. Making friends and meaningful connections shouldn’t be hard.
Communication barriers are unlikely to present a major culture shock either. Despite Uganda being a multilingual country, where many local languages are spoken, English and Swahili are the country’s official languages. However, while this helps in professional settings, doing business and starting a business in Uganda prove challenging, according to the World Bank.
Still, expats are drawn to work and live Uganda. Since the discovery of oil, Uganda’s economic prospects have improved, and its expat labour force is employed in various sectors. Many expats work as journalists, diplomats or aid workers in NGOs as well as in the financial sector or a major industry, such as coffee.
New arrivals will enjoy an affordable cost of living and will likely find themselves living comfortably in a major urban area, such as Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. That said, salaries may be less glamourous than in other key expat destinations and certain things might prove more expensive than expected. For instance, renting property in a safe expat neighbourhood in Kampala could cost two or three times as much as elsewhere in the city. However, most expats choose not to compromise on safety and security.
On that note, most visits to Uganda are trouble free. Despite terrorist threats, there have been no major attacks since 2010. Most crimes committed against expats in Uganda are opportunistic, and common crimes are burglary, muggings and credit card fraud. It is best to exercise caution and avoid walking city streets at night.
Expats will need to invest in a comprehensive health insurance policy before moving to Uganda as treatment in private hospitals can be expensive. Malaria and bilharzia are health issues in certain parts of Uganda and expats planning on living or working in rural areas are advised to take preventative measures.
Expat families should also note that there are several international schools in Uganda's capital, but fees are high. It’s worth trying to negotiate an allowance for this as part of an employment package.
Overall, expats moving to Uganda will have a chance to interact with friendly locals while enjoying spectacular landscapes, a mosaic of cultures and exciting wildlife. While expats may miss certain home comforts, they will surely be treated to an unforgettable experience.
Population: Over 45 million
Capital city: Kampala
Neighbouring countries: Uganda is a landlocked country surrounded by Kenya to the east, South Sudan to the north, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Rwanda to the southwest and Tanzania to the south.
Geography: Uganda lies in the Nile basin and a substantial portion of Lake Victoria lies in the south of the country. Uganda has a varied but generally moderate equatorial climate.
Political system: Unitary dominant party presidential republic
Major religion: Catholicism, Christianity, Islam
Main languages: English, Swahili
Money: The Ugandan Shilling (UGX) is the country's official currency. Some ATMs may be available in major urban centres, but expats in more rural areas will struggle to find these.
Tipping: It's customary to tip a guide, driver, porter or cook depending on the level of service.
Electricity: 240V, 50 Hz
Internet domain: .ug
International dialing code: +256
Emergency contacts: 999 or 112
Transport and driving: Ugandans drive on the left side of the road. Public transport is rudimentary in the form of minibus taxis.