Uganda is an East African country with a population of 35 million. According to the 2015 Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda has an unemployment rate of 32.2% and a labour underutilisation rate of 24.4%. These are quite high percentages for a country with vast resources and a large number of skilled labourers (Uganda Bureau Of Statistics, 2015). A majority of the unemployed are youth who are fully capable of working. Most youth want to have white collar jobs, but this is often impossible due to limited annual intake by various employers. Thus, as an alternative, many of them resort to criminal or gang-related activities which negatively impact society.

There are many green business opportunities in Uganda that have not yet been fully exploited by the youth. I believe that embracing these opportunities would provide more profitable employment than white collar jobs.

Current Green Business Opportunities in Uganda

There are many green business opportunities already in Uganda, including the following;

Greenhouse farming

Uganda is historically an agricultural country and many of its exports include fruits and vegetables. With modern technology, there has been an introduction of greenhouse farming in the country. Many people are turning to greenhouse farming for growing their fruits and vegetables because temperature in greenhouses can be controlled, unlike open field farming. This has led to a reduction in crop losses and greater yields for the vegetable farmers. Since water can be provided through sprinklers, this type of farming can also be carried out in the dry areas of the country that receive minimal rainfall. Another advantage of greenhouse farming is that it utilises a fairly small piece of land which results in better returns compared to open field farming. Furthermore, owing to increased demand for flowers used in weddings and other social functions. greenhouses can be utilised for floriculture, which is on the rise in Uganda. Overall greenhouse business is cheap to establish and beneficial for the youth sector. A typical greenhouse costs approximately 5 million Uganda shillings ($1500 USD), which can easily be obtained through youth scheme bank loans supported by the Ugandan government.

Uganda practicing greenhouse farming

Figure 1. Women in Uganda practicing greenhouse farming (Business Daily, 2016)

The Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB)

The housing construction market is on the rise and bricks are the largest source of construction costs. The interlocking stabilised brick, also known as ISSB according to Hyt Uganda, is a recent innovation in the construction field. An ISSB is a compressed block of moistened soil and cement which is cured, rather than fired. It is far more environmentally friendly than traditional bricks because it is not fired, therefore no trees need to be chopped down to fuel brick kilns. In this way, forests are conserved and carbon emissions are considerably reduced. ISSBs are proven to be stronger than conventional clay bricks. Dry compressive strength tests conducted at the University of Bath in the UK suggest that an ISSB is up to 80% stronger than a clay brick. The interlocking feature of the ISSB means much less mortar is required between courses, enabling construction to be completed more easily and reducing costs. The ISSB is also faster to build with and can be produced at the job site which further lessens expenses (HYT Uganda, 2014).

The structure of an ISSB

Figure 2. The structure of an ISSB and the machine used to manufacture the brick (Innovations Housing, 2015)

Environmentally-friendly stoves

Over 98% of Ugandans rely on charcoal or firewood for energy needs. Producing such a vast quantity of charcoal has massively depleted Uganda’s forests. According to Uganda’s National Environment Authority, the country has destroyed two-thirds of its forests in the last 20 years and will lose all forests by 2050 at the present rate of destruction. Trees are cut down and burned in inefficient kilns, discharging large amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in global warming implications. The selection of more efficient stove types could reduce charcoal use and save thousands of hectares of trees (Inter Press Service, 2016). Ceramic-lined stoves are energy efficient options. These stoves work more resourcefully by reducing heat loss and controlling air flow. A bag of charcoal is expensive and currently sells for around 80,000 Uganda shillings ($25 USD). The use of efficient charcoal stoves could reduce charcoal consumption by 50% compared to an ordinary charcoal stove. Because ceramic-lined stoves are inexpensive, the youth of Uganda can actively manufacture them for less than $5 USD.

manufacturing stoves

Figure 3. Ugandan Youth manufacturing stoves (Reuters News, 2016)

Fish farming

Uganda produces up to 15,000 tonnes of fish from aquaculture, including production from small-scale fish farmers, developing commercial fish farmers and community water reservoirs and lakes. It is estimated that there are about 20,000 ponds throughout the country, each with an average surface area of 500 m². Production ranges from 1,500 kg per hectare, per year for subsistence farmers, to 15,000 kg per hectare, per year for emerging commercial fish farmers. Because of increased market prices for fish, government intervention bolstering production and declining stock from capture fisheries, aquaculture has drawn entrepreneurial farmers looking to capitalise on the commercial opportunity offered by high demand for fish. This recent expansion in aquaculture has transformed approximately 30% of subsistence ponds into lucrative small-scale production units through management advancement and production scaling. It is now estimated that about 2,000 farmers own almost 5,000 ponds (FAO, 2016).

Conclusion

Many green businesses exist in Uganda. It is important for Ugandan youth to increase their understanding and awareness of green business opportunities and to take advantage of them. Success often comes from an openness to innovative ideas and a willingness to try new things.

References

  1. Uganda Bureau Of Statistics, 2015 http://www.ubos.org/onlinefiles/uploads/ubos/statistical_abstracts/Statistical%20Abstract%202015.pdf
  2. Business Daily, 2016 http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Women-reap-financial-independence-from-greenhouses/-/1248928/2777462/-/d1qjam/-/index.html
  3. HYT Uganda, 2014 http://hytuganda.com/interlocking-stabilised-soil-blocks/
  4. Innovations Housing, 2015 http://www.innovationshousing.com/projects/africa.php
  5. Inter Press Service, 2016 http://www.ipsnews.net/2011/05/uganda-stoves-saving-fuel-and-forests/
  6. Reuters News, 2016 http://news.trust.org//item/20130731102017-p0no1
  7. FAO, 2016 http://www.fao.org/fishery/countrysector/naso_uganda/en
Tags:
Dan Obote
About Author: Dan Obote
Dan Obote is an accountant working with Deloitte Limited in Bermuda. Prior to working in Bermuda, he worked in Uganda with KPMG Limited as an accountant. He specialises in the audit of financial services and has also done audits in the aviation industry, manufacturing industry, government institutions and Not for profit entities. Dan is a chartered accountant in Uganda, Canada and also with the ACCA in the United Kingdom. He has also been a guest speaker at many functions for associations like ISACA. He also enjoys playing rugby, cricket and travelling around the world.