The Ugandan government has made the revitalisation and development of co-operatives in the country a priority, with a series of programmes and initiatives aimed at promoting the sector.
As of July 2015, there are around 16,500 co-operatives registered in Uganda, where the population is approximately 37 million. The largest sector representation is savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs), with over 3,000 co-op enterprises.
The government first passed a comprehensive National Cooperative Policy in 2011, recognising the contribution co-ops made towards increasing household income and wealth creation.
Now the cabinet has passed a Cooperative Societies Act to strengthen co-op regulation, promote compliance and expand co-op enterprises in the country. The bill is due to be passed into law.
Co-ops have been active in Uganda for over a century. A statement from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives said: “Cooperatives play an important role in socioeconomic development through the creation of jobs, improvement of member income, the promotion of added value, and social stability.”
The department described the co-op movement in Uganda as ‘very much alive’.
Ugandan co-ops cover a variety of sectors, and agricultural co-ops are well-represented. The government has initiated projects like the One Village One Product programme, which provided equipment to over 40 co-operative societies in 18 districts, as well as training members in business proposal writing and other business skills. The government has also promoted the formation of fruit growers’ co-ops in the Teso region through the Uganda Development Corporation.
Away from agriculture, there are currently 17 energy co-ops – all of which are involved in power distribution – and five health co-operatives.
Transport is another area where co-ops can be found. Uganda has 232 driver co-operatives and 88 co-ops for boda-bodas – two-wheeled bicycle or motorcycle taxis.