Recovery from the COVID-19 shock and the informal labour market in urban Uganda

As coronavirus cases escalated across developing countries in 2021, many governments reimposed harsh lockdown policies, reversing months of gradual economic recovery. This was also true in Uganda, where public transport and non-essential businesses were suspended for 42 days (Presidential order, 18 June 2021) echoing a prior shutdown through April-June 2020. These restrictions significantly impacted the informal economy, where workers are especially vulnerable given the lack of formal contracts, employment benefits or protection. In a previous report, we combined a rich cross-sectional survey of firms and their workers from 2018-19 and phone interviews to study how manufacturing firms in urban Uganda reacted to the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Through a new follow-up phone survey conducted in early 2022 and described in this report, we further examined the longer-term effects of COVID-19 related restrictions on firm closures in manufacturing and the challenges that firms surviving firms are still experiencing two years into the pandemic.