Uganda Defence & Security Report Q1 2014
Uganda's defence spending has fluctuated wildly during the forecast period 2010-2017. At the start of the decade, Uganda was spending up to US$585mn on defence. This then declined to US$583mn in 2011, before experiencing a steep decline to US$276mn in 2012 and then experiencing a slight gain to US$288mn in 2013. BMI believes that the defence budget will increase to US$342mn in 2014, before experiencing a significant increase to US$414mn in 2015. The final two years of the forecast period will see defence expenditure increasing to US$517mn in 2016 and then to US$639mn in 2017.
On average, Uganda has maintained its combined personnel levels for its Army, Navy and Air Force at around 52,700 between the period 2000 and 2009. Moreover, the country is a net importer of military equipment as it has next to no defence industrial capability, save for the small-scale manufacture of some small arms and ammunition products. To this end, Uganda imports significant quantities of material from Russia and from other suppliers located in the former Warsaw Pact. Moreover, like several other African nations, Uganda is importing increasing quantities of materiel from China.
Uganda has to cope with a number of distinct security threats, not least of which is a continued insurgency led by the Lord's Resistance Army, which is the target of military operations led by the Ugandan armed forces. The country has pledged itself to the defence of South Sudan and, should relations continue to worsen between South Sudan and Sudan as they have done since the independence of the former in 2011, Uganda could find itself embroiled in a conflict with the latter in the future. Furthermore, Uganda is judged to also have a moderate risk from terrorist attack. This is partly due to its geographical location. Eastern Africa has become increasingly susceptible to Islamist-based political violence in recent years as the focus of al-Qaeda's operations shifts from Central Asia to Africa.
At the domestic political level, President Museveni appears to have become increasingly withdrawn from Ugandan civil society. He is said to spend significant time at his farm, rather than in the capital Kampala, with some critics accusing him of becoming increasingly out of touch with Ugandan society. At the same time, he still holds an iron grip on the business of government with him having the deciding say over virtually all government decisions; a process which significantly slows decision-making. Similarly, his remoteness from the government is reportedly exploited by colleagues whom seek to undermine Museveni and advance their own agenda. The president is also accused of bullying opponents within the government to such an extent that he is now largely said to be surrounded by weak officials unlikely to challenge his decisions. Thoughts are also turning now to Museveni's successor with his son being mentioned as one potential successor, along with his wife and other family members in the government. Meanwhile, draconian laws have been introduced stifling public debate which has seen two radio stations close and any gatherings of over three people being potentially deemed illegal.