Working in Uganda

Working in Uganda

The majority of people coming to Uganda are here to work (or come as ‘ladies who lunch’ with their working partners). There are a fair amount of job opportunities in and around Kampala, but there’s also quite a lot of competition for them.

By far and away the best way to find a job in Kampala or Uganda is to turn up in person and start looking. I can’t emphasise this point enough – it’s about 100% more effective (and makes you 100% more attractive to potential employers) than just firing out CVs from the couch back in your home country. If possible, identify some potential organisations of interest and generate a list of contacts before you come. That way you can make an attempt at arranging some meetups for when you arrive. Also – if you are trying this method make sure you have enough savings to see you few the first two to three months as it can still take a while to find something once on the ground.

Visas and Work Permits

Working out which is the right visa and how to get them can be a bit of a minefield in Uganda.

The reality is that a significant of number of expats in Uganda work on tourist visas and get away with it. However, to be safe (and of course to do things legitimately) you’ll need to apply for a work permit if you plan to work in Uganda. You can do this through your employer who should be able to sort it out for you but you will need to provide a fair amount of documentation including copies of your academic records/qualifications, your passport itself and a letter from your organisation saying why they need an expat to fill the role.

Work permits cost around $250 USD and should realistically be paid for by your employer. If you are privileged enough to be working in any official or government-y capacity then a letter from a civil service official goes a long way to help you get the permit and speed up proceedings. Otherwise, be warned that a work permit can take up to three months to get processed so you’ll need to make sure your basic entry visas are kept up to date in the meantime.

If you’re volunteering then things are slightly different in that you don’t need a work permit but can stay on a tourist visa (as long as you’re not getting paid – and stipends don’t count). If you’re volunteering for longer than the standard three month entry stamp will cover then you can apply for a special pass once you’re in the country. This gives you an extension of three months and costs around 300,000 UGX.

If you do find yourself already in the country and in a visa pickle (or in need of a visa renewal/status change) you can just go down to one of the two immigrations offices in Kampala. The main one is at plot 75 on Jinja Road and the other one is not much more than a shack and is based at Portbell, right at the end of Port Bell Road (basically just follow the road until you cant go any further and are faced with some metal gates and then its just through there). As an aside I would recommend going to the Port Bell office as it’s a lot smaller and not as busy and as a result customs officers tend to be a bit more ‘lenient’.

Finding a Job

The main jobs you’ll find in Kampala/Uganda tend to be in the NGO, diplomatic, oil or teaching realms. There is, in particular, a very large humanitarian crowd based here with a focus on development, education and health. Kampala is also the headquarters of the large NGO Malaria Consortium, who from time to time are known to recruit en mass.

A word of caution to foreigners looking for NGO work, however. As of June 2012 the government has brought in new legislation to restrict the number of jobs given to foreign nationals in order to prioritise qualified Ugandans. As such, NGOs have to be able to provide compelling reasons for hiring expats and the job market may potentially get a lot tougher for foreigners.

Job websites

There are a number of job websites worth checking out including (if you’re looking for NGO work) the international ones such as, www.idealist.org and

There are also a number of Uganda-specific job sites that offer a range of jobs including,,, and

And don’t forget to check newspaper (and their online versions) such as the Daily Monitor, New Vision, Observer that also have job sections. Or take a look at our jobs in Uganda forum.


The Kampala expat community is an extremely small one (at times claustrophobically so!) so it is comparatively easy to come into contact with employment bigwigs in a social context and networking is by far the best way to suss out (and even secure) potential job opportunities. Any of the popular muzungu hangouts such s Mish Mash, Bubbles and other cafes around town are good places to start in your quest to network your way into a job.

It’s also a good idea to join as many societies/groups/attend events in order to meet people. Networking via Linked In and connecting with people living in Kampala and working in your areas of interest is also a good way to find job opportunities. There are a number of job-related groups that meet regularly and post opportunities online including the ‘Network of International Consultants – Uganda’ that meet monthly for drinks and networking and it is a good way to find short term consultancy opportunities and synergies.

There is also a registry of NGOs registered to Uganda, called the Directory of Ugandan Development Organisations with links to their websites that you can make a shortlist of and check for job openings online.


There are 7 international schools in Kampala that post job opportunities on their websites as and when they come up.

Door to Door

Another good way to get your face and CV out there and actually make some real life contacts is to make a short list of organizations you’re interested in working for and going down to their offices in person to hand in your CV. Especially if you are a freelancer (ie photographer/journalist) or consultant this is a great way to make future connections. Even if the organisation is not currently advertising, there are often short term jobs or contracts that they will need to fill quickly or they will even keep your CV around for future opportunities as this can save them a lot of time and energy in recruitment.


A lot of people (especially those affiliated with international Christian organisations) come to Uganda to volunteer and there are a number of volunteer organisations set up for this purpose. Volunteering is also a good way to fill the time (and avoid getting gaps in your CV) while you’re looking for paid work.

Here are a few places to check out:

  • Sanyu Babies HomeBased in Mengo this is the oldest and biggest babies home in Kampala and has a steady stream of baby bouncing volunteers coming through its doors. You can volunteer here anywhere from 1 week to 6 months.
  • Child’s I Foundation/Malaika Babies HomeAlso based in Mengo. They offer volunteer media positions sporadically to qualified media professionals to help them shoot their awareness raising and professional videos.
  • Watoto Church – One area that always has a need for volunteers is the church and Watoto posts their volunteer vacancies on their website.

For medics and medical students looking for international medical work experience it is also relatively easy to contact the major hospitals such as Mulago and International Hospital Kampala (IHK) to arrange some work experience. They are often desperately short of staff and welcome trainees and qualified doctors with medical qualifications from the respected international institutions.


<photo credit: Vane Kwamboka / Child’s i Foundation>

About Lucy

A Kampalite as of the start of 2012 - I'm really loving my time here and planning to stay for a while. I’m originally from London where I’ve worked for a range of NGOs and am now hoping to try my hand overseas, plus London is way too cold and grey and full of pigeons. I’m currently in search of interesting job opportunities and experiences here and elsewhere – until global warming kicks in that is and then I can head back to the UK as it should have removed the pigeons. Get in touch at