Effective July 1 2020, the following urban areas became cities; Arua, Gulu, Masaka, Mbale, Fort Portal, Mbarara and Jinja. This followed a resolution by Parliament and is in fulfillment of pledges articulated in the 2016-2021 NRM Manifesto and in Uganda Vision 2040. However in a context where local governments are increasingly dependent on the Central government for financing in order to meet the demands for service delivery, to what extent are these cities viable?
The 2016-2021 NRM Manifesto pledged to elevate the municipalities of Arua, Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara to regional cities and to elevate Fort Portal, Hoima,Jinja, Nakasongola and Moroto into strategic cities. Parliament’s resolution has ensured these pledges are fulfilled. The potential gains of this urbanization notwithstanding, urban areas are struggling to provide adequate services, like housing, health, education, transport and employment. This is attributed to inadequate revenue generation.
According to a 2019 policy brief by the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit, the local revenue collected across most local governments cannot even cover the sitting allowances of councillors in a financial year. Consequently, local governments are increasingly reliant on transfers from the Central government.
According to Uganda Vision 2040 Hoima is a strategic city due to its oil wealth, Fort Portal for its tourism, Nakasongola and Jinja are industrial hubs and Moroto for its mineral wealth. Local governments capacity to locally raise and revenues is constrained and in fact the central government dictates how this revenue is administered. This is according to a 2019 policy brief by the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit. Given the development mandate of local governments their dependence on the center impedes service delivery.
According to Uganda Vision 2040, 15% of Uganda 10% of which is the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area. To date urbanization has been uncoordinated exerting stress on the limited infrastructure of urban areas.
Sources: 2019 policy brief by the Budget Monitoring and Accountability Unit
Uganda Vision 2040
2016-2021 NRM Manifesto