A Ugandan living in Kagadi District is 57 times poorer than a person living in Wakiso District.
This is according to the estimates of personal incomes reached during a study supported by the American government.
The study is entitled “Estimating District GDP in Uganda”. GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, is the money value of goods and services produced in an area or country over a period of time.
During the study, the researchers estimated the GDP of each of the 116 districts by November 2017, and then divided the GDP with the estimated number of people in the respective districts to arrive at average income, or GDP per capita.
Based on the average incomes or GDP per capita so derived, the researchers then ranked the 116 districts from richest to poorest.
Wakiso District emerged top with a GDP per capita of $3,250 or Shs11,736,700, while Kagadi District was ranked 116th with a GDP per capita of $57 or Shs 205,843 at the prevailing exchange rate.
Wakiso District was ranked top, ahead of Kampala District, as the “richest” district based on GDP per capita despite Kampala District having a higher GDP.
This is because Kampala has a higher population than Wakiso, which brings down its average income (GDP per capita).
In the same vein, Kagadi District has a higher total income (GDP) than many other districts, like Otuke, Kalangala, Ntoroko and Lamwo, but it at the same time has a higher population than each of those districts, meaning that its average income (GDP per capita) is lower than that of each of those other districts.
Kagadi was one of the 102 districts that, according to the ranking, have a GDP per capita which is below the national GDP per capita average of $580 or Shs474,547.
In the top 10 districts ranked by average income (GDP per capita), Wakiso is followed by Kampala at Shs9,587,960 ($2,655), Mukono at Shs6,276,410 ($1,738), Masaka with Shs4,911,350 ($1,360), Jinja with Shs4,261,320 ($1,180), and Buikwe with Shs4,059,080 ($1,124).
The others are Mpigi with Shs4,059,080 ($1,109), Mbarara with 3,658,230 ($1,013), Mbale with 2,571,230 ($712), Nwoya at 2,542,340 ($704), Lyantonde with 2,217,330 ($614), Gulu with 2,163,160 ($599), and Kibaale with 2,119,820 ($587).
From bottom, Kagadi is followed by Alebtong with Shs231,122 ($64), Otuke at Shs238,345 ($66), Kalangala with an average income of Shs241,956 ($67) and Napak with Shs 245,567 ($68).
These are followed by Ntoroko with Shs256,401 ($71); Lamwo with Shs 270,846 ($75), Kaabong with Shs270,846 ($75), Moyo with Shs274,458 ($76) and Buvuma with Shs 278,069 ($77).
On the whole, the study found that only 14 districts have average incomes that are above the national average of $580 or Shs474,547.
The study is the first of its kind in the country to measure GDP and GDP per capita at district level.
“These estimates were not developed to serve as a thought exercise. Rather, there is a clear interest in understanding how GDP and GDP per capita are distributed throughout Uganda to target poverty interventions and bring greater prosperity to more people,” the researchers observe.
The study was done by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, Josef Korbel School of International Studies and University of Denver all from the United States of America.
They were supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“These estimates can also shed light on how human development is distributed throughout Uganda.
GDP per capita has a very strong correlation with the Human Development Index, particularly for low-income countries,” the report adds.
Generally, districts in Central and Western Uganda have larger per capita GDP estimates than eastern and northern Uganda, which is consistent with the official report on poverty that government agencies have released over the years.
In fact, six of the 10 poorest districts per capita are in northern Uganda.
Only the island districts of Kalangala and Buvuma make it to the bottom list from central Uganda, with Kagadi and Ntoroko representing the western region from the bottom.
Northern Uganda makes up slightly more GDP than eastern Uganda (7.7 per cent and 6.9 per cent, respectively), but eastern Uganda is more productive based on its population size.
Karamoja’s collective GDP accounts for less than 1 per cent of Uganda’s total GDP, according to the study.
Sub-regionally, Kampala and south central sub-region (Wakiso, Mukono, Masaka, Jinja, Buikwe, Mpigi account for an outsized proportion of Uganda’s GDP relative to its population size.
Kampala, for example, which is roughly 5 per cent of Uganda’s population, generates 22.5 per cent of its GDP; the south central region comprises 11.4 per cent of Uganda’s population and produces 27.5 per cent of the country’s GDP, according to the study.
The researchers observe that the top 19 district economies in Uganda make up 75 per cent of the total GDP of Uganda, with the remaining 25 per cent of the national economy coming from 97 districts.
Put another way, the top 19 districts have roughly one-third of the total population and generate three-quarters of the total GDP.
The study takes note of the emerging economies in districts outside of central Uganda which in the coming years could turn the tables.
These include Mbarara (Western/Ankole), Kasese (Western/Tooro), and Mbale (Eastern/Bugisu) which are in the top 10 district economies and the largest economies in their respective sub-regions.
Other better performing districts are Arua (West Nile), Lira (Lango), and Gulu (Acholi) in northern Uganda. Collectively, these make up roughly one-third of northern Uganda’s economy.