In a significant stride towards fostering economic development and financial inclusion, the nation’s Development Finance Institution, Uganda Development Bank (UDB), in November 2023, opened its inaugural regional office, the UDB Northern Region Office, in Gulu City. This step marked a pivotal moment in the Bank’s commitment to enhancing accessibility and efficiency in providing financial services across the country.
Over recent years, Northern Uganda has been on a positive trajectory as it is steadily progressing from being an area that encountered insurgencies in the past to a flourishing region. This can be attributed to different activities initiated by the government and the private sector to foster development within the region by leveraging a multi-sectoral approach purposed to mitigate the aftermath of the instabilities that have affected the region’s growth to this day.
According to the August 2015 Northern Uganda Peace Recovery and Development Plan 3 (PRDP3), emphasis was made on economic development by capitalizing on the growth of the private sector which would in turn, offer the best chance of growing incomes, reducing poverty, and closing the economic gap between the North and the rest of Uganda.
The region boasts of arable land which is ideal for spurring the growth of Agro-business as well as paving the way for tourism.
Alfred Okwong, the Gulu City Mayor highlighted the rich resources of the region. “In Northern Uganda, we have vast fertile and arable land. By opening an office in Gulu Town, UDB will not only be accessible to the business community in Gulu City but the entire Northern Uganda. The people of Northern Uganda now have access to affordable financial services so that they can participate in the various development activities that will foster social-economic development,” he said.
“We have the Murchison National Game Park, Karuma Falls, Aruu Falls, etc. Many tourism activities can be done here. With the Bank’s product portfolio and 12% interest rate, compared to other players in the market, our people have an opportunity to improve the region by taking up such investment platforms,” added Gulu City Mayor.
The Northern regional office is anticipated to spur job creation, boost economic growth, and fill the socio-economic gap between the North and the rest of Uganda. The collaborative efforts between the Bank, leadership in the various districts within the region, and local businesses are catalysts for fostering prosperity in the region.
Mark Moro, the Regional Director of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated that in the past, business owners faced challenges in accessing services from the development bank due to proximity issues.
He said, “What I have appreciated are some of the key components of business areas that have been identified, that is agricultural processing and agro-processing. Agriculture cuts across by bringing in quite several key players, right from production in the garden, to storage, to processing, to the market, and up to exporting. This process alone involves so many people and those key players will have something to go back home with.”
Consistent with the Bank’s mandate to accelerate socio-economic development in Uganda through sustainable financial interventions, the office will support projects within the private sector that demonstrate the potential to deliver high socio-economic value, in the areas of Primary Agriculture, Industry (to include agro-industrialization, manufacturing, knowledge-based industries, and extractives), and Services (health, tourism, and hospitality, education, science, technology, and innovation) and Infrastructure.