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What you need to know about Kampala

Kampala is the capital and largest city of Uganda. The city is divided into five boroughs that oversee local planning: Kampala Central Division, Kawempe Division, Makindye Division, Nakawa Division, and Rubaga Division. Surrounding Kampala is the rapidly growing Wakiso District, whose population more than doubled between 2002 and 2014 and as of 2014 Wakiso was reported to stand at over 2 million.

Kampala was named the 13th fastest growing city on the planet, with an annual population growth rate of 4.03 percent, by City Mayors. Kampala has been ranked the best city to live in East Africa  ahead of Nairobi and Kigali by Mercer, a global development consulting agency based in New York City.

Currency

The Uganda Shillings is the official currency used and issued as 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 notes. The shilling breaks down into 50, 100, 200 and 1000 coins.

Economy

Efforts are underway to relocate heavy industry to the Kampala Business and Industrial Park, located in Namanve, Mukono District, approximately 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) east of the city’s central business district, thereby cutting down on city traffic congestion. Some of the businesses that maintain their headquarters in the city center include all of the 25 commercial banks licensed in Uganda; the New Vision Group, the leading news media conglomerate and majority owned by the government; and the Daily Monitor publication, a member of the Kenya-based Nation Media Group. Air Uganda maintained its headquarters in an office complex on Kololo Hill in Kampala. Crown Beverages Limited, the sole Pepsi-Cola franchise bottler in the country, is situated in Nakawa, a division of Kampala, about 5 kilometres (3 mi), east of the city centre.The informal sector is a large contributor to Kampala’s GDP. Citizens who work in the formal sector also participate in informal activities to earn more income for their families. A public servant in Kampala, for example, may engage in aviculture in addition to working in the formal sector. Other informal fields include owning taxis and urban agriculture. The use of Kampala’s wetlands for urban farming has increased over the past few decades. It connects the informal rural settlements with the more industrialized parts of the city. The produce grown in the wetlands is sold in markets in the urban areas.

In December 2015, Google launched its first wi-fi network in Kampala.

While more than 30 percent of Kampala’s inhabitants practice urban agriculture, the city of Kampala donated 32 acres (13 ha) to promote urban agriculture in the northeastern parish of Kyanja, in Nakawa Division.

Climate

Kampala has a tropical rainforest climate (Af) under the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system.

A facet of Kampala’s weather is that it features two annual wetter seasons. While the city does not have a true dry season month, it experiences heavier precipitation from August to December and from February to June. However, it’s between February and June that Kampala sees substantially heavier rainfall per month, with April typically seeing the heaviest amount of precipitation at an average of around 169 millimetres (6.7 in) of rain. Kampala has been frequently mentioned as a lightning-strike capital of the world.

Transport

Kampala is served by Entebbe International Airport, which is the largest airport in Uganda.

Boda-bodas (local motorbike transport) are a popular mode of transport that gives access to many areas within and outside the city. Standard fees for these range from USh:1,000 to 2,000 or more. Boda-bodas are useful for passing through rush-hour traffic, although many are poorly maintained and dangerous.In early 2007, it was announced that Kampala would remove commuter taxis from its streets and replace them with a comprehensive city bus service. (In Kampala, the term “taxi” refers to a 15-seater minibus used as public transport.) The bus service was expected to cover the greater Kampala metropolitan area including Mukono, Mpigi, Bombo, Entebbe, Wakiso and Gayaza. As of December 2011 the service had not yet started.Having successfully completed the Northern Bypass, the government, in collaboration with its stakeholders, now plans to introduce the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Kampala by 2014. On 12 March 2012, Pioneer Easy Bus Company, a private transport company, started public bus service in Kampala with an estimated 100 buses each with a 60-passenger capacity (30 seated and 30 standing), acquired from China. Another 422 buses were expected in the country in 2012 to complement the current fleet. The buses operate 24 hours daily. The company has a concession to provide public transport in the city for the next five years.The buses were impounded for back taxes in December 2013. The company expected to resume operation in February 2015.

In 2014, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and a China transportation company signed a Memorandum of Understanding, that they would at some point begin embarking on building a light rail system in Kampala, similar to the one recently completed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

On 11 April 2011, the pressure group Activists for Change (A4C) held its first Walk to Work protest near Kampala, in response to a comment by President Museveni on the increased cost of fuel, which had risen by 50 percent between January and April 2011. He said: “What I call on the public to do is to use fuel sparingly. Don’t drive to bars. The protest, which called on workers to walk to work to highlight the increased cost of transport in Uganda, was disrupted by police, who fired tear gas and arrested three-time presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao. In the course of the protest, Besigye was shot in the right arm by a rubber bullet. The government blamed the violence on protesters.

 

In 2016, the Rift Valley Railways Consortium (RVR) and Kampala Capital City Authority established passenger rail service between Namanve and Kampala and between Kampala and Kyengera. Those services were temporarily discontinued after RVR lost its concession in Uganda in October 2017.However, when Uganda Railways Corporation took over the operations of the metre gauge railway system in Uganda in 2018, the service was restored in February that year. A new Kampala to Port Bell route is being planned, to be added in the 2018/2019 financial year.

Language

Kampala’s official languge is English, which is spoken by most educated Ugandans. The three major indigenous language families are Bantu, Central Sudanic, and Nilotic. Swahili and Luganda are also widely spoken.