Gold reclaims spot as Uganda's largest export commodity

Gold has been key in boosting Uganda’s export earnings in the last five years. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • In the 12 months to February, gold has re-emerged as the largest export commodity, contributing 37 percent of export revenues

Gold reclaimed the number one spot as Uganda’s largest export commodity in the 12 months to February, according to data from the Ministry of Finance. 

Bank of Uganda data had previously indicated that 44 percent of Uganda’s export income was coming from gold, but this had been interrupted by almost a year of no export, due to suspended activity over tax-related issues. 

However, the suspension has since been lifted with dealers returning to the export market in mid-2022, after government reviewed levies on gold. 

In February 2022, the government reviewed levies on gold, introducing a  $100 charge on every kilogramme of refined gold instead of the 5 percent and 10 percent of the value of exported refined and unrefined gold that had been imposed at the start of the 2022/23 financial year. 

Cumulative data in the Ministry of Finance Performance of the Economy Report indicates that in the 12 months to February,  gold earned Uganda a monthly average of $228.4m, the biggest from any single export commodity.

The report, which highlights the performance of commodity exports, notes that export revenues from gold contributed 37 percent of total export income, returning a value of  $2.7b, which was more than a third of the $7.4b earned as a total from all exports. 

The $2.7b, Bank of Uganda data indicates, was earned from at least 45,988 kilogrammes over the 12 months with a monthly average of 3,538 kilogrammes. 

The Ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda record data on commodity exports in value and volume terms.  

Gold has increasingly become a significant export commodity in Uganda, opening up an important trade relationship with the Middle East, which for decades, had been quite insignificant in the country’s trade. 

The largest portion of Uganda’s gold is exported to the Middle East, with United Arab Emirates, taking up at least 98 percent of the exported commodity. 

The Ministry of Finance report indicates that during the 12 months to February, Uganda earned a total of $7.4 from exported goods, of which, almost half was generated from gold exports. 

A large chunk of Uganda’s gold exports are re-exports, largely from Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Tanzania, from which the country imported gold worth Shs766.8b ($209.4m) in 2022, according to data from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). 

Other export commodities, according to the Ministry of Finance report, included coffee, maize, tea and cotton among others, with coffee following gold in terms of earned revenue.  

During the period, data indicates, Uganda earned a monthly average of $84.3m from coffee, which returned a cumulative earning of  $1b and a 13 percent contribution to overall export earnings. 

For a long time, until about five years ago, coffee had been Uganda’s largest export commodity.  

Coffee was followed by maize, which earned Uganda a monthly average of $17.5m and a cumulative foreign exchange of $211.15m. Maize contributed 2.8 percent to total export revenue during the period.

Other notable export commodities included fish and its products, which earned $137.6m worth of export revenue, tea ($78.24m), beans ($66.67m) and flowers ($63.77m).  

Earnings per commodity 






37 percent 



13 percent 



2.8 percent 



1.85 percent 



1.05 percent 



0.9 percent



0.86 percent



0.82 percent



0.43 percent



0.35 percent