Post: Transport Sector

Transport Sector

Size and Structure

The Transport sector is complementary to other sectors namely; Agriculture, Forestry, Tourism, Mining, Oil and Gas, Manufacturing, Housing development and Information and Communication Technology.

The sector has two subsectors, transport infrastructure and transport services. In Uganda, the existing transport services include but are not limited to road, air, railway, and water..The transport service sub sector contributed 2.5% of GDP, equivalent to Shs1, 248 billion at current prices in 2011/12 financial year.

Air transport and support services contributed 0.7% of GDP equivalent to Shs332 billion in 2011/12 financial year.

Road Transport infrastructure:
The total national road network is estimated at 78,100 km of which 4 per cent is paved. The length of paved roads increased from 3,112 kilometres in 2010 to 3,264 kilometres in 2011. The Government of Uganda has placed high priority on development and maintenance of road infrastructure in the next 10 years.

Road Transport services:
Include Passenger Service Vehicles (PSV) which consists of Buses and Mini Buses; privately owned cars, cargo vehicles, motorcycles (Boda Boda) used to transport paying passengers; bicycles and to a limited extent donkeys. Government intends to put in place a high volume public transport system to manage traffic levels in the country.

Air Transport infrastructure: 
Air transport is playing an increasing role in the promotion of tourism and in regional integration. In addition, since the country relies on the sea route to Mombasa for international trade, air transport is an alternative transport system especially in the transportation of perishable products.

In terms of infrastructure, Entebbe International Airport is currently the main functional exit from and entry point into the country. There are also aerodromes (airfields) in Uganda namely: Arua, Gulu, Soroti, Pakuba, Kidepo Mbarara, Masindi, Jinja, Lira, Moroto, Kisoro and Kasese which have been designated as exit points to handle cross border air traffic within the region. There are 60 licensed airfields but only 30 are in use.


Rail Transport infrastructure: currently there are 321 km of functional rail network covering the main line from Malaba-Kampala route (251km), the Port Bell-Kampala link (9 km) and the Tororo-Mbale line (61km). The increasing export and import cargo volumes are creating a significant investment potential in railway transport.


Water Transport infrastructure: 18 per cent of Uganda’s surface area consists of lakes, rivers or swamps. The principal lake and river system includes Lake Victoria, Lake Kyoga, Lake Albert and Lake George, together with River Kagera, the river Nile.

Currently, both motorized and non motorized vessels ply the above lakes and rivers. Some water routes are served by wagon ferries while others are served by road bridge vehicle ferries. The wagon ferry routes are Port Bell – Mwanza and Port Bell-Kisumu which also connect to the rail network. There are seven bridge vehicles ferries including three on Lake Victoria, two on Victoria Nile, one on Lake Albert and one on Albert Nile.


Status of Economic Activities

Uganda has enjoyed sustained economic growth over the last ten year, rising tourist numbers, growing population and new discoveries of minerals including oil that have overstretched and put pressure on the existing transport infrastructure. This has created opportunities for investment in infrastructure maintenance and development; as well as investment in new and improved fleets of vehicles, rail wagons, aircrafts and boats.

Lake Victoria the biggest water body in the region presents connectivity among the three regional countries as one market.


National Roads
The Government of Uganda plans to improve the stock and quality of road infrastructure. That will involve upgrading specific national roads from gravel to class I and II bitumen standard. The target is to:

  • upgrade national roads (from 15 per cent (3,050km) to 21 per cent (4,105km) by 2015)
  • reconstruct or rehabilitate sections of national roads
  • create dual carriage roads in specific sections of national roads to improve their capacity
  • upgrade specific district roads to national roads
  • to maintain national roads in good condition

.To meet these targets the Government intends to adopt a Public Private Partnership arrangement.  .

The government of Uganda plans to increase the volume of passenger and freight cargo conveyed on the rail network. The plan involves: rehabilitating the existing rail network and increase the haulage capacity; reconstruction of Kampala-Kasese railway line and Tororo-Pakwach railway line and some sections of Malaba-Kampala railway line; construction of a standard gauge rail system connecting Kampala to Malaba with future connectivity to other parts of the country; overhauling  and revitalize the operations of the national rail system to increase haulage on the existing rail system; and procurement of additional passenger and cargo locomotives is vital. The railway system is expected to provide cost effective transport system for both passengers and cargo.

Air Transport
Air transport is a growing mode of transport, over the period 1997 to 2007, total air passenger and cargo traffic increased by 102 per cent and 137 per cent, respectively. Increase in economic activity has created demand for additional air transport services. Passenger traffic is overwhelmingly dominated by international passengers. In 2007, international passengers accounted for 97 per cent of total passenger traffic. The %percentage is even higher for international cargo traffic which virtually accounted for all total cargo traffic in 2007. The government has planned interventions to improve air transport, some of which include:

  • Upgrading Entebbe airport to class A standards.
  • Completing the on-going upgrade of Arua airfield and upgrade Kasese, Soroti, Pakuba and Kidepo airfields to exit ports.
  • Modernizing and expanding the meteorological services’ infrastructure.
  • Revising existing PPP arrangements to allow other players on regional flight routes to and from Entebbe besides air Uganda.
  • Entering into Public Private Partnerships to increase the domestic flights to various parts of the country.
  • Acquiring land and gazette future airfields.

Water Transport
Uganda’s waterways have the potential to provide the cheapest mode of transport in comparison to road, air and rail. Government currently plans to increase the volume of passenger traffic and cargo freight by marine transport.

Planned interventions include:

  • Conducting hydrographical surveys to map navigable routes on Lake Victoria and other lakes;
  • Rehabilitating the two Ugandan wagon ferries and replace the MV Kabalega;
  • Rehabilitating port infrastructure at Port Bell, Jinja and Butiaba. These activities will create investment opportunities for private investors.

Demand Drivers and Resource Base factors

Demand Drivers

  • The increased economic activities have put pressure on existing transport infrastructure.
  • Growing tourist numbers have led to an increase in demand for road, air, marine and rail transport.
  • Discovery of oil and other minerals requires improved transport infrastructure to facilitate exploitation of these resources.
  • Increased urbanization demands an efficient transport network.
  • Increased industrialization lends to increased movement of export and import goods.
  • Increased cross border trade rates call for increased demand for provision of efficient means of transport to enhance transport of people and goods.
  • Regional integration

Resource Base Factors

  • Rivers and Lakes to develop waterways
  • Oil refinery by product bitumen used to make roads
  • Endowed with  granite and other rocks used to make tarmac
  • Civil Engineering Universities that churn out engineers able to build and maintain roads and other transport infrastructure

Key Trends

   Road Transport

The road transport sector has over the years recorded tremendous growth in number of vehicles registered.

Newly registered motor vehicles
The table below shows that although the number of registered vehicles  on road increased between 2007 and 2008, this trend reversed in 2009 with a 1.2 % decrease in newly registered vehicles. The number of newly registered vehicles then increased slightly by 1.8 % in 2010 and further by 18.2 % in 2011 as indicated in the Table below.

Newly Registered Motor Vehicles, 2007-2011

Category 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Newly Registered 79,312 105,595 104,384 106,224 125,518
% Change> 28.71 33.14 -1.15 1.76 18.16

Source: URA

Air Transport
Table 13 below shows the commercial traffic at Entebbe Airport for both International and domestic flights increased from 19200 in 2006 to 24,506 in 2011. The number of international landed passengers increased from 252,432 to 551,904 over the same period. The table shows that there is an annual growth rate of 5.1 % between 2010 and 2011 in passenger air transport for both domestic and International travels.

Commercial Traffic at Entebbe International Airport, 2006 – 2011

Mode of Traffic 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Annual Change (%)
Commercial Aircraft Movement   No. 19,200 22,000 23,847 21,619 23,320 24,506 5.09
Over Flight at Entebbe (No.) 6,291 6,713 8,391 8,694 9,574 12,142 26.82
Passengers International
Landed  No. 252,432 396,079 470,397 468,899 518,791 551,904 6.38
Embarked No. 254,606 392,695 465,787 460,153 504,646 533,705 5.76
Passengers Domestic
Landed No. 18,458 13,703 12,205 9,188 6,004 4,832 -19.52
Embarked No. 17,692 12,196 10,867 8,721 5,875 4,676 -20.41
Freight Cargo              
Imports Tonnes 13,236 22,881 21,298 19,917 21,344 20,662 -3.20
Exports  Tonnes 35,075 40,837 37,695 32,726 27,753 27,973 0.79

Source: Civil Aviation Authority




  • Water transport infrastructure
  • Investment in water transport and entertainment vessels.
  • Investment in transport infrastructure bonds.



  • Air transportation
  • Cargo transportation
  • Transport logistics and management firms.
  • Construction of road networks through Public Private Partnerships.
  • Public transport systems.
  • Road construction rehabilitation and maintenance services.
  • Training and Capacity building in road construction and maintenance; maintenance and handling of heavy trucks and equipment
  • Investment in Road management systems.
  • Investment in local domestic air transport network and systems


Sector Specific Licensing Requirements
Transport is licensed and regulated. Specific requirements vary by subsector with transport. These can be obtained from the Ministry of Works and Transport. (Refer to Appendix 3)

Sector Specific Incentives for Investors
Please Contact:

  • Transport Licensing Board
  • UNRA
  • URA
  • Civil Aviation authority
  • Ministry of Works and Transport

  Useful addresses and contacts

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA)
Plot 5 Lourdel Road –Nakasero
Tel: 256-312-233100/414-318000

Ministry of Work and Transport:
Plot 4/6 Airport Road Entebbe
Tel: 256-414-320101/9;

Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS)
Plot 9 Colville Street
Statistics House
Tel: 256-414-706000

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