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Middle-income status still eludes Uganda as Tanzania makes the grade

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Uganda has missed its target to become a Middle Income country, according to rankings released by the World Bank.

Uganda had aspired to join the Lower-middle Income status by 2020 and progress into the Upper-middle Income status by 2040.

The World Bank classifies the world’s economies into four income groups, low income, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high-income countries. The classifications are updated each year on July 1.

The ambitious plan was premised on the second National Development Plan by prioritising agriculture, tourism and minerals such as oil and gas, which would strengthen Uganda’s competitiveness for sustainable wealth creation, employment and inclusive growth.

This was expected to result in reduced poverty, an increase in employment levels and better health and education services.

The aspirations for Middle-Income status also became a major campaign promise for the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party during the 2016 campaigns.

President Museveni, as per the NRM manifesto, assured Ugandans that under his fifth elective term he dubbed Kisanjja Hakuna Mchezo, he would fight ills such as corruption that rob Uganda of billions of shillings and drive the country into the Middle Income status within five years.

According to the World Bank 2020 rankings, however, Tanzania and Benin were the only African countries to progress from Lower Income to Middle Income status this year, joining countries such as South Africa, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Swaziland, Cote d’Ívoire, Kenya, Sudan, and Cameroon among others.

Tanzania is said to have achieved the status five years ahead of schedule, having recorded a growth rate of seven per cent in 2019.

Criteria
The World Bank assigns countries according to the Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of the previous year. GNI refers the total income earned by a country. This is, however, subject to factors such as population.

The World Bank also announced a rise in the threshold of the GNI per capita rankings. Nations with a per capita gross national income less than $1,036 (about Shs3.8m) make up the Lower Income status. The Lower Middle Income lies between $1,036 and $4,045 (Shs15m).

Those between $4,046 and $12,535 (Shs46m) are ranked as Upper Middle Income, while those above $12,535 are High Income countries.

Uganda’s per capita gross national income stood at $780 (about Shs2.9m) as of 2019.

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