Private sector growth remains weak due to uncertainties, says BoU 

Dr Atingi-Ego says private sector has remained weak due to high interest rates and increased government domestic borrowing. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • The value of the total private sector credit as of April 2024 stood at Shs33.6 trillion, against a commercial lending rate of 17.7 percent 

Bank of Uganda yesterday said it is worried that private sector credit growth could weaken further due to tighter domestic financing conditions, resulting in lower demand. 

The value of the total private sector credit as of April 2024 stood at Shs33.6 trillion, against a commercial lending rate of 17.7 percent.  

Presenting the Monetary Policy Statement in Kampala, Bank of Uganda deputy governor Michael Atingi-Ego, said like several other countries, Uganda faces decreased capital inflows, headwinds to export growth, and heavy external debt servicing partly due to rising global interest rates, which combined with declining budget support, had resulted into a decline in international reserves. 

As of April, gross foreign exchange reserve amounted to $3.46b, which, coupled with concerns over debt affordability and constrained financing options, resulted into a downgrade of Uganda’s sovereign credit rating, though with a stable outlook. 

Therefore, Dr Atingi-Ego said going forward, the Central Bank would rebuild international reserves through increased coordination of monetary and fiscal policies, which is likely to be supported by favourable weather conditions leading to good food crop harvests, higher government and private sector investment in programmes to boost economic activity. 

Bank of Uganda also noted that although the economy remains resilient, recent economic indicators have been mixed but consistent with the 6 percent projected growth, noting that the composite index of economic activity suggested a slowdown in growth of 0.9 percent quarter-on-quarter and 5.3 percent year-on-year in the quarter to April. 

However, Dr Atingi-Ego noted that risks to the growth outlook remain heightened with uncertainty about the global economic situation and stronger shilling depreciation weighing down on domestic demand, which therefore, had forced Bank of Uganda to maintain the Central Bank Rate at 10.25 percent, highlighting that it is still adequate to support economic growth and control inflation.

Bank of Uganda tightened the CBR raising it to 10 percent from 9.5 percent, before increasing it further to 10.25 percent in April. 

Dr Atingi-Ego noted that the relative stability of the shilling against the dollar had benefited from CBR, supported by an increase in inflows, from robust coffee exports that have benefited from a favourable international coffee price regime.