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Only 35% Of Uganda’s Youth Have Steady Income, A Mere 34% Save Regularly -Report

A new report has revealed that 65% of Uganda’s youth have periodic/non-consistent sources of incomes, with only 35% having steady/consistent income.

This is contained in a report by GeoPoll based on data collected from youth populations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire. Topics studied included income streams, spending habits, payment types, investment decisions, savings patterns, and more.  GeoPoll is a leading research provider that facilitates mobile-based data collection around the globe.

The survey samples had a total of 400 respondents per country, aside from Côte d’Ivoire, which had a sample of 250 respondents due to the mode of the survey and the Internet penetration in the country. And due to the survey topic, it was targeted to the youth population, with the majority of respondents coming from the 25-35 age group. Surveys were conducted incrementally by region between July and September of 2019.

The report will also serve as a benchmark of growth as the financial sector looks back upon progress in the years to come.

Source of Income

According to the report, 43% of youth across the six countries indicated that employment was their main source of income while 34% relied on self-employment.  The report adds that 34% of the youth indicated that parents were their source of income while 11% and 15% indicated sponsors and betting as their main source of income.

Across the countries studied, the largest average share of monthly spending was for food at 23%, followed by school fees and education at 11%. Non-food household items, rent, and clothing are all tied for third at 7% average share of monthly spending.

While airtime came in last for the group of top categories, respondents did indicate a 6% share of monthly expenses used for airtime credit, a significant portion of funds when compared to other essential items.

The categories with the lowest share of monthly spending overall were nicotine products at 0.3%, paid video streaming at 0.7%, and gambling at 1.1%.


34% of Kenyan respondents indicated frequent saving by responding that they almost always set aside money as savings.

“Results from Uganda are similar to those seen in Kenya: the largest portion of the respondent pool, 34%, indicated saving almost always, while 19% indicated saving every once in a while. Notably, the third largest portion of responses, 17%, noted not having a savings account at all, which demonstrates that respondents are split on their savings habits,” the report obtained by Business Focus reads in part.

Regarding the proportion of money that respondents put into savings, there were significantly fewer responses for saving a particular percentage of income, 21%, than the other choices. The remaining 79% of responses were split almost evenly between saving a fixed amount and saving whatever remains, 41% and 39% respectively.

Across the six countries, bank accounts were the most popular savings platform overall, yet were not the most popular savings platform in every country studied.

“For Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, and Nigeria, bank accounts were the most popular savings platform, and Ghanaians indicated saving through bank accounts more than any other country,” the report reads in part.

Mobile money accounts were the second most popular savings platform.

 Uganda indicated the most use of Saccos as a savings platform with 22% and Kenya was a close second with 20%.

Respondents who reported saving in some capacity were then asked an open-ended question about the driving force behind their savings decisions. Overall, the distribution of common responses were: emergency (18%), future use (17%), education (11%), and accumulation of money (7%).

Investment Culture

Nigeria (84%) was by far the country with the most culture surrounding investing money, followed by Kenya (76), Tanzania (66), and Uganda (65). The popularity of the investment channels, however, have key nuances to note on a country-by-country level. Tanzania was by far the most engaged country in business investments, 63%, and one of the lowest engaged in farming investments, 26%.

 Ghana was also much more engaged in business investments than farming investments, with 38% and 13% respectively, yet this is not the same story showed in all of the countries studied. Kenya, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire leaned slightly toward business investments but also had almost as many people report investing in farming.

“Uganda’s results show the same as Kenya, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire but Uganda leans toward farming as the most popular investment category,” says the report.

According to the report, farming’s popularity was strong enough across the countries studied to come out with the second highest average, yet farming’s results were more varied across countries than business was. Farming was extremely popular for Uganda (47%) and Kenya (47%) yet was much less popular in Ghana (13%), Côte d’Ivoire (23%), Tanzania (26%), and Nigeria (27%).

“Despite the nuances per country, it is still clear that business and farming are overall two of the most popular investment categories. This may be due in-part to accessibility. Business and farming are two categories that can be invested in little-by-little over time. Once businesses or farmland are established, it is possible to invest in them when extra money is on hand and not worry about payments when money is tight. Also, business and farming may have a more comfortable balance of risk verses reward than buying rental houses, cryptocurrency, or bonds,” says the report.

Investment Challenges

Lack of money to invest was the most common response. Ivory Cost (34%), Tanzania (29%), Uganda (21%), and Kenya (16%) were the countries with truly notable response rates for lack of money to invest.

The next most popular response was that respondents have several other commitments, which was followed by low income.

“Low income is quite similar to lack of money to invest as a response, while the answer regarding respondent’s having several other commitments gives more insight for how financial services can encourage people to invest more frequently or heavily,” the report reads.

In Tanzania, other commitments were reported as the number one challenge (30%) that hinders respondents from investing. 13% of Ugandan respondents answered the same, as well as 11% of respondents from Côte d’Ivoire and 10% of Kenyan respondents.

“This information can serve as encouragement to financial services providers to work on creating easier processes for clients to invest their money. Such processes may also require education on investments and the associated benefits,” the report reads in part.

 5% of Uganda’s respondents indicated they did not have the knowledge needed to make investment decisions, which further identifies the need for education on investments and the benefits.

Taddewo William Senyonyi
William is a seasoned business and finance journalist. He is also an agripreneur and a coffee enthusiast.

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