On July 1, 2020, seven towns in Uganda were elevated to the status of cities by the government as parts of efforts to drive economic developments in the East African country. Prior to this, the country only had its state capital, Kampala, as a city since it gained independence in 1962.
Speaking on Tuesday in Kampala, Raphael Magyezi, the Minister for Local Government stated that “The Uganda Vision 2040 (the overarching 30-year national vision) identified the creation of regional and strategic cities as one of the key drivers for the development agenda of the country’s long term aspirations and projections for the future.” He made this statement while announcing guidelines for the operation of the cities.
Magyezi further mentioned that the new regional cities are the government’s response to the high urbanisation growth rate the country is experiencing. The government’s move is part of efforts to create a total of 15 regional and strategic cities in the country.
When people migrate in large numbers to a new location, chances are that they become a part of its active workforce, spurring economic activities. However, certain factors contribute to the migration of people from rural settlements to urban areas.
In Uganda, research shows that a combination of economic and social push and pull factors are responsible for rural-urban migration in most cases. Again, the overwhelming economic prospects perceived to be available in urban regions also motivate most rural migrants as local communities provide limited options to them.
The landlocked country has over time become a haven for many refugees from neighbouring crisis-ridden countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. This makes its Arua district a part of the Refugee program that receives about 20 percent of refugees entering Uganda yearly.
The municipalities which were elevated to cities include, Arua located in the West Nile region near DR Congo and South Sudan borders; Gulu located in the Central North; Mbarara in the Midwest; Fort Portal in the west; Masaka in the central region; Mbale and Jinja in the eastern part of the country.
With this new development, the cities are expected to experience more rural migration, infrastructural development and foreign investment opportunities. Apart from growth in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), more factories are likely to spring up as the cities would provide its needed workforce.