What is the currency of Uganda?

19 Aug 2021 - Category: Blog /

Are you interested in learning about Uganda? A good place to start is with the Ugandan currency which has had an interesting history ever since it was introduced in the 1960s.

A currency is a mark of a country's economic well-being and is also connected to a country’s national pride and culture. On coins and notes you will often see famous monuments and depictions of figures that have played a pivotal role in the nation's history. Uganda is no different. Its fascinating currency reveals a lot about the country.

So, what is the Ugandan currency called? What is the state of the currency today? What does it look like? And how does it compare to the currencies of other African nations?

In this blog we’ll explore the history of the Ugandan currency, how the currency is recognised today and how it relates to major currencies around the world.

The currency of Uganda

The currency of Uganda is the Ugandan shilling. The currency replaced the East African shilling in the 1960s. It is a free floating currency. The Bank of Uganda manages and controls the currency and as such is the only institution allowed to mint, distribute and destroy the currency.

Today the Ugandan shilling is in coin denominations of one, two, five, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000. Similarly, the shilling is banknote denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000.

The Ugandan shilling is integral to the country’s economic fate. There have been many times in the last decade when the value of the currency has fluctuated but in general the Ugandan shilling is quite stable. Throughout Uganda, the US dollar is also widely accepted alongside the Ugandan shilling.

How is the Ugandan shilling recognised?

The Uganda shilling has changed a bit since it was first brought in during the 1960s following independence. The first Ugandan shilling was recognised by the code UGS. The second and current Ugandan shilling, is recognised by the code UGX. The symbol for the Ugandan shilling is USh.

This is helpful to know when trying to find the currency on a list of exchange rates . The current Ugandan shilling trades under the currency code: UGX. To understand more about the Ugandan shilling let’s take a brief look at the history of the currency.

The history of the Ugandan shilling

Before the Ugandan shilling there was the East African shilling. Before 1966, the East African Currency board controlled the currency and finances of Uganda. But 1966 marked the creation of the Bank of Uganda (BoU) and the creation of the Ugandan shilling.

As we mentioned before, this first shilling was known as the UGS. For over two decades this Ugandan shilling remained the national currency for the country. However, as a result of economic turmoil, the government issued a new Ugandan shilling in 1987 identified by the currency symbol of UGX. This new Ugandan shilling was worth 100 old shillings, and aimed to restore stability to the country’s economy.

This is the Ugandan shilling that is present today. And in 2010, the Bank of Uganda began to circulate shilling banknotes with new depictions of the nation's history. These notes also had improved security features.

You can see the nation’s history displayed on the notes currently in circulation. The 1,000 shilling note depicts some agricultural scenes and symbols. Similarly, you can find illustrations of traditional Ugandan musical instruments on the 10,000 shilling notes. On the 5,000 shilling note are depictions of Lake Bunyonyi and the MV Kaawa Ferry on Lake Victoria.

Each Ugandan shilling note depicts something unique to Uganda, like the Bwindi tropical rainforest on the 50,000 shilling note. And each note has its own distinct colour too.

Exchange rates

The exchange rate of a currency can reveal quite a lot about the state of a country's economy and their relationships with other countries around the world. It is worth comparing the Ugandan shilling to global currencies like the US dollar and the Euro as well as some currencies of neighbouring African nations like Kenya and Tanzania.

In 2021, the average exchange rate of the Ugandan shilling to USD is 3613 UGX to 1 US dollar. This exchange rate has remained relatively stable in recent years and is linked to the fact that the US dollar is used widely across Uganda.

Moving closer to home. The average exchange rate of the Ugandan shilling to the Tanzanian shilling during 2020 was 1.59 UGX to 1 TZS. Similarly, in 2020 the exchange rate of the Ugandan shilling to the Kenyan shilling was 34.74 UGX to 1 KES. The close economic relationships between the two countries has helped to maintain a stable exchange rate.

Finally in 2021, the average exchange rate of the Euro to the Ugandan shilling is 1 EUR to 4342 UGX.

Uganda’s economy

The ups and downs of a currency are linked to the economic activity of the country. Over the past twenty years Uganda has improved its economic outlook especially on a global level. As with many countries, the shock of the pandemic has halted economic progress and industries have had to adapt.

Agriculture, the main industry in Uganda, plays a huge role in the success of the country. 73% of the country’s labour force are engaged in some way in the Agriculture industry. However, other industries like steel and cement production have also created many jobs in recent years.

The country also hopes to have a thriving technological industry in the coming years. As more investment is put into technological infrastructure, we’re likely to see more app developers and tech innovators in the future. Hopefully, this will help Uganda’s economy compete on the global stage and contribute to a more thriving Ugandan currency.

How do I send money to Uganda?

So, we’ve explored the origins and development of the Ugandan currency. Knowing about the currency will help you if you send money to business partners or loved ones in Uganda.

Small World is an international money transfer service helping people all around the world remain financially flexible. You can send money to Uganda via bank deposit, mobile wallet or cash pickup. All transfers with Small World are quick, convenient and secure.

Your first transfer online is always fee free!

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