Uganda has 15.6m middle class citizens, says govt report

The middle class is associated with quality lifestyles, characterised by high end shopping and leisure. Photo / Stephen Otage 

What you need to know:

  • The Poverty Status Report, 2021 indicates that during the period ended 2020, at least 1.52 million Ugandans joined the middle class  

A government report has indicated that the number of Ugandans who are now classified as middle class citizens stands at 15.64 million. 

The details are contained in the Poverty Status Report, 2021 compiled by Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) and the Ministry of Finance. 

The report, which was launched on February 9 and subsequently published about a week ago, indicates that during the period ended 2020, at least a total of 1.52 million Ugandans had joined the middle class category, which implies that they “have secured better livelihoods compared to the period ended 2017. 

The increase, the report notes, means that the number of middle class Ugandans rose from 14.12 million during the period ended 2017 to 15.64 million, “a positive development consistent with Uganda Vision 2040”. 

According to the report a middle-class society is classified as one that has a sustainable standard of living with a minimum likelihood of falling below the poverty line, which, in essence, is associated with growth in real income commensurate with a middle-income economy. 

“In Uganda, there is a strong national aspiration to reach a middle-income economy with a per capita income of $1,039 (Shs3.7m),” the report reads in part.  Government has already indicated that Uganda is a lower middle income country. However, this has been disputed by the World Bank, attracting a lot of exchange between government and one of Uganda’s largest multilateral lenders.  

The report also notes that whereas the middle class had largely been urban, it is slowly and steadily emerging in rural areas. 

For instance, the report noted that of the 15.64 million Ugandans categorised as middle class, 56.56 percent live in urban setups while 31.52 percent are in rural areas. 

However, whereas the growth has been incremental in rural areas, there have been declines registered in urban areas. 

For instance, the report notes, the middle class has grown from 27.2 percent during the period ended 2010 to 31.52 percent in rural areas, while in urban areas it has declined from 57.7 percent during the same period to 56.65 percent.  

A further breakdown indicates that households that meet the middle class status are concentrated in Kampala, Buganda (South) and Elgon sub-regions.

Kampala has the highest proportion with at least 40.66 percent of its population classified as middle-class citizens. The report further notes that between 2017 and 2020 Kampala experienced a 3.8 percent increase in the proportion of the middle class citizens, while the proportion of poverty and insecure non-poor reduced by 38 percent and 11.9 percent respectively. 

However, the report notes that the highest increase in middle class citizens was witnessed in the Elgon Sub-region recording a 135 percent rise in the period under review.