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The Cheap Kampala Uganda I Know

Kampala, Uganda's Capital City is one of the cheapest cities in Africa and the entire world to live for expatriates, a 2011 cost of living survey from Mercer, a leading human resource and financial consultancy firm has revealed.

Ranked at position 202 in the world, Kampala fares a lot better than Tanzania?s Dar-es-Salaam (ranked 187) and Kenya?s Nairobi (108). This gives the city an edge over its East African counterparts as an attraction for highly-skilled foreign labour. Regionally, Kampala ranks 40th, ahead of Dar-es-Salaam (36) and Nairobi (23) out of 43 surveyed African countries.

This development, according to some experts, could have been precipitated by the current economic trends that have seen the Uganda shilling depreciate against the dollar. This means that people from foreign countries can purchase more goods for less money in Uganda,? says Dr. Adam Mugume, the Bank of Uganda executive director for research function
"With $100, one can purchase a lot more goods and services in Uganda than in other countries," he adds.

This, Mugume says, is potentially good for the country "because more and more people are encouraged to come to Uganda, which boosts tourism and other sectors of the economy".

According to the same survey, Luanda, the capital city of Angola is the most expensive city for expatriates across Africa and globally. It is followed by the Chadian capital Ndjamena, ranked number three and Gabon?s Libreville in the 12th position.

The survey covers 214 cities across five continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. New York is used as the base city against which all cities are compared. Currency movements are measured against the US dollar. The cost of housing ? often the biggest expense for expatriates ? plays an important part in determining where cities are placed.

After Luanda, Ndjamena and Libreville, Africa?s most expensive cities are Victoria (13) in the Seychelles, Niamey (23) in Niger and Dakar (32) in Senegal. In South Africa, Johannesburg and Cape Town rank 151 and 171, respectively. These findings defy the long held notion that cities in African nations are affordable, perhaps because of the less developed infrastructure and run down amenities. Nathalie Constantin-Métral, a senior researcher at Mercer, says this is not true.

"We?ve seen demand increase for information on African cities from across the business spectrum, mining, financial services, airlines, manufacturing, utilities and energy companies," she says.

This, she says, is because of the increasing cost of safe and secure living conditions, which many multi-national companies seek out for their expatriate employees "In some African cities, the cost of living, particularly, good, secure accommodation can be extraordinarily high." This, she says, is generally the main reason why we fi nd so many African cities high up in the ranking.
At the bottom of the ranking, Addis Ababa (208) in Ethiopia is the cheapest African city, followed by Namibia?s Windhoek (205) and Botswana?s Gaborone (203).

New entries in the top 10 list of the costliest cities in the world are Singapore (8), up from 11, and São Paulo (10), which has jumped 11 places since the 2010 ranking. Karachi (214) is ranked as the world?s least expensive city. Recent world events, including natural disasters and political upheavals, have impacted the rankings for many regions through currency fluctuations, cost infl ation for goods and services and volatility in accommodation prices.

Mercer?s is the world?s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is designed to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.


Dr. Augustine Nuwagaba ? consultant
I lived in Geneva in the 1990s. It is one of the most expensive cities I ever lived in. Transport, accommodation and food was expensive. A plate of chicken and French fries cost $96 (about 250,000). Accommodation cost between $100 and $180 (sh260,000-sh460,000) per night. To cut costs, I and my colleagues appealed to the head of the Uganda Consulate in Geneva to help us out. I teamed with friends to share accommodation and cut costs. We also used trams for transport as opposed to expensive road transport. We used to go to neighbouring
Germany to find cheaper food.

Cindy Sanyu ? Musician
It is quite expensive living in London. While some of my trips were paid for, I have had to get money out of my pocket to go around and do shopping. Taxis cost an arm and leg. Imagine paying £12 (about sh48,000) for a short drive around town. I used to go shopping, but many items were extremely expensive. A nice pair of shoes cost over £25 (over sh100,000). Here, you can  nd a nice one at much less than that. What I did to cut costs? I also stopped using taxis and resorted to going around by bus or train. I stopped going to expensive restaurants.

Navio ? Hip Hop artiste
I lived in South Africa. I was a student there. Everything, from textbooks to transport, was annoyingly expensive. Food too was on the high side.

So I got on to a hustlers meal ? this consisted of bread and soft drinks like Pepsi. There is also something we called Bunny Chow (meet rolled up in bread). This meal was a nice way for us to save. I played in a provincial basketball team and worked at a café to supplement my income. I also used to do music so I had busy weekends working.

Dr. Lilian Nabulime ? University lecturer
I lived in Newcastle, where I did my PhD. Accommodation cost about £2,000 every month. Food and transport was also very expensive. We needed warm clothing and other materials, but these too were very expensive. I had to  nd accommodation near the university.

This made it very easy for me to walk to class, instead of using a bus or taxi. I never ate in restaurants, because it was expensive there. I would instead buy food in bulk and slowly but carefully consume it to make sure it lasts long enough.

Stephen Ssenkaaba and Agencies
Sunday August 28, 2011 : The New Vision Newspaper

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