Uganda - Country Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techniques

Identifies common practices used in selling in this market, including sales material that needs to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2021-11-12

Companies generally advertise products through billboards, newspapers, radio, television, online classifieds, and social media.  Although most Ugandans speak English, ad campaigns often use local languages as well.  Firms also promote themselves at music concerts and sports events. 

Trade Promotion & Advertising

The U.S. Embassy in Uganda is a commercial service partner post with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.  Investors can find more information about trade promotion services here:  https://ug.usembassy.gov/business/commercial-services/.  The Uganda Investment Authority (https://www.ugandainvest.go.ug/) (UIA) leads the government’s efforts to promote trade and investment in Uganda.

The Uganda Manufacturers Association organizes an annual trade show, with the next one scheduled for October 6 to 12, 2021.  For details on these trade shows, see https://www.uma.or.ug/trade-fairs.  The Uganda National Farmers Federation also organizes an annual agricultural trade show that is typically held in July.  As in 2020, it is likely these fairs will be cancelled for the foreseeable future due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

Newspapers and Business Journal Advertisers include:

  • The East African
  • The Daily Monitor
  • The New Vision
  • Website: The New Vision
  • East African Business Week
  • The CEO Magazine
  • CEO East Africa
  • Leading radio and television stations include:
  • Capital Radio
  • KFM
  • MultiChoice Uganda Limited
  • Radio Sanyu
  • Simba Radio
  • Uganda Broadcasting Corporation
  • NBS Television
  • NTV

Pricing

Ugandan firms importing goods use the International Chamber of Commerce trade terminology otherwise known as “Incoterms.”

Although many U.S. firms prefer to quote prices on Ex Works or Free on Board basis, Ugandan importers generally prefer price quotes on “Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) Mombasa” basis.  Kenya’s port of Mombasa is the primary initial port of entry for goods destined for Kampala.  However, in recent years, some Ugandan traders have begun importing goods through Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Ugandan importers generally prefer CIF quotes in U.S. dollars as they are familiar with customs charges, including taxes levied at the local ports/airports and brokerage and handling charges.

Uganda operates as a free market with few price controls outside of basic foodstuffs. 

Ex Works:  The seller is required to make goods ready for pickup at his or her own place of business.  Transportation costs and risks are assumed by the buyer.  [Least risk to exporter, greatest risk to Ugandan importer]

Free on Board (FOB):  The seller agrees to absorb the costs of delivering the goods to the purchaser’s transporter of choice.  The term FOB is a frequent feature of contracts for the sale of goods, especially when the goods are to be delivered to a foreign destination.  [Low risk to exporter, high risk to Ugandan importer]

Cost, Insurance, and Freight:  The seller arranges for the carriage of goods by sea to a port of destination, and provides the buyer with the documents necessary to obtain the goods from the carrier.  [Moderate risk to exporter, moderate risk to Ugandan importer]

Import Costs

When calculating import costs, companies should consider the following:

  • Purchase costs, as per bill of lading net sea/airfreight charges depending on incoterm basis.
  • Insurance
  • Logistics
    • shipping agent’s fee
    • port charges
    • clearing charges are $150 - $250 per container
    • forwarding charges
  • Land transport.  Despite the relatively short distance, land transportation costs from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Kampala are substantial at $3,500 per dry container—often exceeding the price of shipping goods from the exporter port to Mombasa.
  • Customs/Excise taxes
    • Most of the goods exported to Uganda are subject to customs/excise duty taxes.  These taxes vary depending on the products.  The range of customs taxes varies from zero to 60%
    • VAT is 18%
    • Withholding tax is 6%
    • Infrastructure Tax is 1.5%
    • Foreign Service Tax is 15% withholding tax and 18% VAT
  • Miscellaneous fees
    • Some agricultural goods including beef and dairy are subject to additional fees.
    • Some high-value consumer goods not meant for resale, including digital televisions, are also subject to additional taxes.
  • For further information on import fees, please go to the URA’s website:

Uganda Revenue Authority - Services Catalogue: https://www.ura.go.ug/

Sales Service/Customer Support

Uganda’s market offers consumers limited customer support.  Ugandan customers often make purchases on an “as-is” basis.  Investors who offer high-quality products with superior supply chain logistics and technical support could take advantage of this market shortcoming in Uganda.

Local Professional Services

  • Expat Assist Uganda:  https://www.xpat-assist.com/
  • Price Waterhouse Coopers
  • The Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda
  • Private Sector Foundation Uganda: https://www.psfuganda.org/
  • Uganda National Association of Building and Civil Engineering Contractors: https://unabcec.co.ug/
  • Uganda Association of Consulting Engineers: http://www.uace.or.ug/
  • Deloitte & Touche
  • Ernst & Young

Principal Business Associations

American Chamber of Commerce of Uganda

Uganda Manufacturers Association

  • Tel:  +256 414 221 034 /287615

Uganda Bankers Association

 Uganda Law Society

  • Tel:  +256 414 342 424
  • Email:  uls@uls.or.ug

Uganda Society of Architects

For a more comprehensive listing of Ugandan Business Associations please go to:

Uganda Economy - Trade Associations

Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services

According to the Uganda Investment Code, the Minister of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development through a statutory instrument states the minimum capital requrements for investment thresholds for both foreign and domestic investors, based on the sector.  If the foreign investor intends to engage in any business beyond merely trading (i.e., intends to manufacture goods or provide services), the investor must acquire a license from the UIA.  There are no restrictions on the sale and distribution of products once they are allowed in the country.  Foreign companies often partner with local businesses to sell their products.