Urban development

Urban development is listed among the key fundamentals in Vision 2040 to be harnessed due to the key role it plays in the development process. Properly planned urban development aids the provision of housing facilities, basic services, and infrastructure for the growing population, promotes clean living and sustainable urban areas hence enhancing production and improving standards of living.

The country envisages the attainment of urbanization through integrated physical planning and investment that will lead to establishment of commercial and industrial functional zones.  This is to be achieved by pursuing a national urbanization policy that will foster desirable urbanization freeing up land for establishment of industrial parks, economic zones and commercialization of agriculture.

The National Urban Policy (NUP), 2017 is an overarching framework that guides urban development in the country. The Policy is intended to promote a sustainable, spatially integrated and orderly development of urban areas with adequate services, effective and efficient institutions, as well as attracting investments and creating job opportunities to support the socio-economic development of the Country. The NUP, 2017 also provides the strategic direction for new and urban developments. The National Physical Development Plan 2018-2040 was also developed as a strategy to resolve the conflicting sectorial pressures on uses of land as the population grows and the country modernizes. The plan aims to coordinate and align national projects in urbanization, infrastructure, transportation, and wealth creating sectors, giving a coherent approach to development planning in the country.


More than one in five Ugandans are residing in urban areas and the urban population is expected to triple in the next two decades.  The projected urban population by mid-2017 was 9.4 million from 2.9 million in 2002. This was mainly driven by creation of new districts, municipalities and town councils, and gazetting former rural areas as urban areas. The biggest urban population resides in Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area (GKMA), a region challenged with unemployment and inadequate opportunities. However, the Government is currently implementing the GKMA physical master plans to guide the establishment and development of GKMA, regional and strategic cities, and other urban centres. This will take into con-sideration provision of social amenities such as education and health, and recreational facilities, help evacuate traffic and ease congestion, and improve traffic flow.


During the development of Vision 2040, government undertook to establish five regional cities as a key core project. These cities include; Gulu, Mbale, Mbarara and Arua and other strategic cities including; Hoima (oil), Nakasongola (Industrial), Fort Portal (Tourism), Moroto (Mining) and Jinja (Industrial). Government approved creation of five regional cities (Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal and Mbarara) in 2019, to take effect in 2020. Other emerging urban centres with the requisite conditions for city status are still under consideration and will be established over the NDPIII period.


  1. Uganda’s population is estimated at 40.3 million in 2019 from 34.6 million in 2014.
  2. The estimated urban population in 2019 was 10.784 million from 2.9 million in 2002.
  3. The urbanization target for Vision 2040 is 60 percent level of urbanization
  4. 57.2 of the population in urban areas had access to grid electricity by 2019, whereas 9.3 percent have access to solar.
  5. Income inequality in urban areas reduced from 0.45 in 2009/10 to 0.42 in 2016/17