Uganda Map of Financial Inclusion: Analyzing datasets for better policy decision-making

Audrey Linthorst|Jul, 2013

Date: July, 2013

Uganda is a key market in the rapidly evolving financial landscape of the East African Community (EAC). New infrastructure developments, ongoing technological advancements, and an increasing focus from both the public and private sectors on financial services make this a pivotal time to begin monitoring financial inclusion developments across the country. To shed light onto the current financial inclusion picture, MIX, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has developed the Uganda Map of Financial Inclusion, which displays both financial service providers (FSPs) and socio-economic information.

This mapping brings together datasets which, up to now, have existed only in isolation from one another. MIX gathered data from a range of sources, including open data platforms, as well as directly from local stakeholders, such as the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC), the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), the Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU), and others. Find more information on the dataset behind the mapping in the About the Data section.

Layering these different datasets over a map provides deeper insights than if we were to look at any of the datasets on their own. For example, selecting from the various FSP layers as well as socio-economic layers, we can explore which types of FSPs are reaching the large and growing youth population in Uganda, or which regions show higher numbers of dormancy among savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) and how that might relate to rural poverty levels. This information, in turn, can help inform policy to encourage greater outreach to youths, or develop appropriate interventions for SACCOs.

To begin understanding the financial inclusion landscape in Uganda, MIX mapped 3,000 points of service from commercial banks, credit institutions, microfinance deposit-taking institutions (MDIs) and credit-only MFIs, as well as SACCOs, with the following distribution:

Table 1. Distribution of FSP Point of Service



Commercial Banks

Credit Institutions



Number of Points of Service(POS)






Percent of Overall POS






Figure 1. Distribution of Financial Service Providers across Regions

Not surprisingly, the most densely populated Central region accounts for the majority of points of service (POS) (see Figure 1). Kampala alone hosts nearly half of the total access points across the region. The capital city is also where most commercial banks have branches. Conversely, the Eastern and Northern regions still have very little coverage, and there is clear room for expansion into these areas. These are the least developed regions overall, with significantly weaker infrastructure and population density, alongside greater travel distances to reach basic necessities, such as water sources, health facilities, and schools.

Thus far, it has predominately been SACCOs expanding outreach beyond the scope of the more developed areas. They are significantly more prevalent than any other type of FSP in districts with high rural poverty levels, likely linked to the government’s role in supporting the establishment of new SACCOs, with a target of one SACCO per sub-county. Currently, the government supports SACCOs in the form of start-up grants, interest-free loans, and operational support in which the government covers salaries and rent for the first two years of operations. However, there are some concerns around a growing dependency on subsidization. Additionally, it is becoming increasingly important to monitor trends in this sector, since the influx of SACCOs has been accompanied by reports of high levels of inactivity, and ultimately the closing of several SACCOs. MIX has included information about the status of the SACCOs within the map (see figure 2 for an from the Mbarare district). By overlaying this information with other datasets, such as socio-economic information, or presence of other financial service provider types, we can begin to hypothesize about the underlying causes of high inactivity levels. As we track these trends over time, we will be able to develop a clearer understanding of the issues surrounding the statuses of the SACCOs. This deeper information can help inform the development of effective policies to build a healthy financial sector.

Figure 2. SACCOs by current status: a zoom into the Mbarara district

Exploring this map alongside market trends and developments can help determine what questions are relevant, and how one might begin finding answers. Here are more examples of the type of information we can extract from this map, in addition to some questions that a deeper dive into this mapping can begin to help answer:

The underserved population: Half of the population of Uganda is under the age of 18 (56%) and another fifth of the population between the ages of 18 and 30.[i] This prevalent youth demographic in Uganda, combined with the challenges associated with providing this population segment with effective financial services, has led to a significant part of the country remaining underserved. Currently, youth account for just 6% of total savings at SACCOs and 15% of total outstanding loans. This highlights a huge opportunity for the expansion of financial services to better meet the needs of the population. How will product lines and delivery channels begin to capitalize on the demographics of the country over time? As more data becomes available, we will hopefully be able to learn more about what types of FSPs, product lines, and delivery channels are reaching this currently underserved segment of the population.

Savings habits of refugees: Uganda is home to a significant number of refugees, particularly from neighboring South Sudan, Rwanda, and DRC. Districts with a high influx of refugees are showing significantly higher savings than the regional average. For example, the northern district of Moyo has seen a large increase in refugees from South Sudan, which has led to nine SACCO's in this district holding almost one-third of the north's savings (see Figure 3). How will the financial services in these areas evolve alongside local developments? What will the changing refugee scene mean for SACCOs in these districts?

Figure 3. Savings at SACCOs in Moyo, a district with a large refugee population

Rural expansion via irrigation: There has been discussion of Uganda potentially beginning to start using the Nile River for its own irrigation.[ii] This could help mitigate inconsistent rainfall and create a more robust agricultural sector overall. If this takes place, how will financial services expand into rural areas to meet increased demand? On the map we can see that currently commercial banks, MDIs, and credit only MFIs have had minimal outreach to rural areas. Will new partnerships expand the ecosystem to increase outreach of financial institutions to the rural areas?

Infrastructure expansion and FSPs: There have been a number of discussions around expanding infrastructure, particularly following a tragic accident last month where a transit fuel tanker crashed and killed 30 people[iii]. Building an oil pipeline is one way in which the EAC plans to begin addressing these increasing infrastructure needs; expanding roads is another. Currently, FSPs are heavily concentrated along the main roads (see Figure 4). As new infrastructure is built out, will FSPs expand along with them? What types of FSPs will expand branch locations? Will these developments attract actors other than FSPs to the rural areas?

Figure 4. FSPs and Infrastructure

These are just a few examples of the kinds of analysis we can do with MIX’s Uganda Map of Financial Inclusion. We can explore information at a high level as well as zoom in to a more specific provider type or district to start asking and answering questions that will inform decision making. We can also contextualize this information with local developments for more current analysis. Our hope is that this map motivates greater data sharing and dialogue between different actors and decision makers,both at the local and global level.

One key dataset is missing from this analysis: mobile money. Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Uganda do not share their data publicly. This, unfortunately, leaves a gap in the financial inclusion picture, particularly because mobile money is changing the financial landscape of rural areas in many African countries, including Uganda, who reported nearly 17.5 million mobile connections as of 2012.[1]

As additional datasets become available, MIX will continue to update Uganda’s map, which will enable more detailed trend analysis. MIX also plans to create additional visualizations and analysis for a series of African, Asian and Latin American countries on its soon to be launched financial inclusion platform. Upcoming maps include: Zambia, Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, South Africa (version 2.0), Rwanda (version 2.0), India (version 2.0) and five Indian states (yet to be determined), Myanmar, The Philippines and 5 additional Sub-Saharan African countries (yet to be determined).