President: Yoweri Museveni
Land Area: 236000 sqkm
Population: 26 million (2002)
Life Expectancy: 46 years
Population growth 2.5% (1980-91)
Adult Literacy: 52% (1990)
Time: GMT/UTC plus three hours
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz Note the electric socket format is 3 pin as used in the United Kingdom.
Weights & measures: Metric
Currency: Uganda shilling (USh)
National Bird: Crested Crane
Language: Over 56 dialects spoken
Value Added Tax- 20%
Visas: Please read document VISAS
The IDD code for Uganda is +256. MTN Uganda, Uganda Telecom (Mango) and Celltel operate cellular Networks on the 0782, 0772, 0774, 0712 and 0752 prefixes respectively. Both Mtn and Utl provide an SMS gateway through their website’s for 0772, 0774, 0782(MTN) and 0712(Mango). Visit the Web City Cafe website that provides a user friendly interface from which to send SMS to either Mango or MTN numbers.
http://www.mtn.co.ug (fast and reliable)
Area Name – Area Code
Add a prefix zero when dialing in Uganda
Arua – 476
Bombo – 414
Bushenyi – 485
Busia – 454
Entebbe – 414
Fort Portal – 483
Hoima – 465
Iganga – 434
Jinja – 434
Kabale – 486
Kakira – 434
Kalisizo – 481
Kampala – 414
Kamuli – 496
Kapchorwa – 454
Kasese – 483
Kisoro – 486
Kumi – 454
Lira – 473
Lugazi – 414
Luwero – 414
Malaba – 454
Masaka – 481
Masindi – 465
Mbale – 454
Mbarara – 485
Mityana – 464
Mpigi – 414
Rukungiri – 486
Semuto – 414
Soroti – 454
Tororo – 454
Wobulenzi – 414
Internet access is available in some form or another in just about all of Uganda’s major centres of population. Even the smallest of Internet cafes are able to boast a wireless connection or similar of some sort. Speeds are acceptable although costs can be as much as Ushs200- per minute in some outlying areas. Kampala is at saturation point in the number of cafes open to the public which has driven surf time rates down to as little as Ushs20- per minute.
For those traveling with their own notebook computer some cafes will provide you with network access. If you have the cabling and a compatible phone line connector for your notebook you can dial into the Uganda Telecom service recently introduced called ‘Freenet’. Not completely free but if you have access to a phone line the UTL network allows you to dial in without the restrictions of a contract associated dial up account. The dialing number for ‘Freenet is 0400 1000, the username is freenet and the password freenet. It really works!
Wireless Internet Hotspots
Recently activated ‘hotspots’ in Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja have instantly transformed cafes, restaurants and hotel lobbies and gardens into ‘free range cyber cafés’ to the delight of visitors from abroad and the local aficionados. While the pilot phase, which is free of charge, will run out in September 2005, the facility will then continue to be available against a user fee, to which even overseas visitors can sign up for. MTN, one of the national operators, has now also activated advanced features which allow net surfing on compatible mobile phones, including MMS (picture messaging).
Major Health Risks:
Bilharzia, HIV/AIDS, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), malaria, yellow fever.
When to Go:
December to late February, the weather at this time of year is generally dry (though hot).
June to mid-August period.
The Ugandan shilling is on a continuous slide against all major currencies. It is however a fully convertible currency but you may have difficulty in finding US$ cash to buy in Kampala at times especially large denomination bills. If you are prepared to accept old bills (100, 50) and small denominations you may find it easier. At this time you would be advised to change only what you need on a day-to-day basis when spending time in Kampala and then changing enough for your expected expenditure for your anticipated journey. Forex bureaus offer better rates than the banks. Do not expect to find forex bureaus at border posts and in all major towns. Border posts are the domain of street money changers where care should be taken and rates lower than in Kampala. If you think the rate you are getting from a moneychanger appears to be very high you are about to ripped off and look elsewhere to change money.
US$ bills are only accepted if printed after and including 2001, they must be in good condition, not torn and preferably large denominations of the new style bills. Old bills before 2001 are regarded as very suspect and some bureaus may not accept them.
There have been numerous instances where the Uganda shilling has been counterfeited. It is usual that the silver strip is missing on such bills and has affected only the larger bills of 20,000, 10,000 and 5,000-shilling denominations. The Uganda Shilling is available in note form in 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 Shilling denominations. Uganda Shilling notes 50, 100, 200 and 500 are no longer legal tender. These notes have been withdrawn and replaced by coins of the same denominations. Beware that when dirty and in poor light Uganda Shilling notes of 10,000 and 1,000 denominations can look very similar and are easily mistaken for one another.
Travelers’ cheques are rarely accepted for change outside of Kampala/Entebbe. Rates for Travelers’ Cheques are always significantly lower than for cash. US dollars cash in large bills are the preferred currency; British pounds sterling is also highly regarded. Kenyan shillings are readily exchanged. South African Rands as in all places outside of South Africa attain a very poor rate. American Express has an office in the Kampala Sheraton but will not cash US$ travelers cheques for US$ cash. Rates for small US$ bills 1,5,10,20 are 20% less than you will get for 50 & 100$ bills.
Credit cards are accepted only at larger hotels and restaurants and certainly not outside of Kampala and Entebbe. Drawing money against your credit card is possible only through Barclays in Kampala.
For those wishing to use their personal Auto Banks cards to obtain money from Auto Teller machines, Standard Chartered have an Auto Teller at the Airport. This machine only accepts VISA cards with a maximum withdrawal of Ushs800,000- (US$450-) per day. There are Auto Tellers at most of the major banks in Kampala and at some large petrol stations in the city. Not all Auto Tellers will dispense cash to International bank cards unfortunately. Barclays bank in Kampala is the only bank that provides cash advances against Credit cards.
If you are with a vehicle in Kampala and are concerned about leaving you’re vehicle unattended when making your forex transaction go to the Grand Imperial Hotel. You can safely park your vehicle in view whilst changing your money in the Shumuk Forex Bureau kiosk adjacent to the main entrance of the hotel. All vehicles are parked inside a 24hour security barrier. The same can be said if you are on foot and feel anxious about making your forex tranaction.
You won’t be expected to tip in Uganda. Bargaining is the norm when buying things from a market, street stall or craft shop.
Both Muslim and Christian holidays are celebrated.
New Years Day- 1st Jan
Good Friday- variable
Easter Monday- variable
NRM Anniversary Day- 26th Jan
International Women’s Day- 8th Mar
Labor Day- 1st May
Uganda Martyr’s Day- 3rd Jun
National Hero’s Day- 9th Jun
Independence Day- 9th Oct
Christmas Day- 25th Dec
Boxing Day- 26th Dec
Iddi Adhuha- variable
Government offices are open from 08h00 to 16h30, Monday to Friday, closing for lunch from 13h00 to 14h00.
Bank hours vary from bank to bank but most are open from 08h30 – 14h30 Monday to Friday. Only some are open on Saturdays.
Shops are generally open from 08h00 to 17h00, Monday to Friday and 08h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays.
While driving in Uganda the following documentation is required at all times: a) Vehicle registration book b) Vehicle certificate of Insurance (Heavy fines are imposed for driving an uninsured vehicle) c) International or Domestic drivers license Note: Commercial vehicles not registered in Uganda require a permit to operate in Uganda
Rules of the Road:
In Uganda, you drive on the left hand side of the road. The general speed limit on national highways is 100km/h and 65 km/h in urban built up areas, unless otherwise indicated.
To bring a vehicle into Uganda one must obtain a temporary import permit (available at the border) or, depending on the country of origin of the vehicle, a Carnet de Passage. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, they must have a letter of authorisation from the owner for use of the vehicle in Uganda. You will be required to obtain 3rd party insurance unless you already have a Comesa Yellow Card insurance. 3rd party insurance for a Landcruiser is about US$20- for one year.
There have been some border ‘scams’ played out and targeted at travelers with their own vehicles crossing from Kenya to Uganda through Malaba and Busia. The scam involves a Uganda Revenue Authority officer a Clearing Agent and an Inland Car Depot Manager. It is usual to be confronted by a sea of Clearing Agents wanting to help/assist you with importation formalities for the vehicle to cross the border. The Clearing Agent advises you a bond will have to be paid to import the vehicle and the vehicle will be put into an ICD outside of Kampala until an insurance against the bond is taken out. The vehicle is escorted to the ICD until the insurance is paid.
This exercise is not necessary should you be travelling with a Carnet de Passage. For those with a Carnet this is your bond/surety and a local bond is not necessary if it is not your intention to permanently import the vehicle. Temporary Import Permits are available for and can be obtained for US$20- at the border for vehicles from countries that Uganda has a reciprocal arrangement with. This includes all neighboring territories.
Should it not be your intention to import the vehicle permanently you do not require the services of a Clearing Agent and you would be well advised to refuse their assistance and clear the vehicle yourself.
Vehicles from neighboring territories have no problems to obtain a Temporary Import Permit at any of the land borders with Uganda. Vehicles with South African number plates are advised to travel with a Carnet when coming to Uganda. Kenya no longer permits SA registered vehicles to enter Kenya without a Carnet and as such the only way SA registered vehicles can arrive in Uganda by avoiding Kenya is via Mutukulu border with Tanzania or via Rwanda.
The is an office of the Automobile Association in Kampala on the road behind the Equitorial Hotel off Kampala Road who may be able to give you advise if you find yourself having to secure a bond against the temporary importation of a vehicle.