The Cranes managed just a solitary point in 2017, their only other tournament appearance since the 1970s, but against DR Congo they looked a force to be reckoned with and deservedly ran out comfortable winners.
Despite having the more established talents, DR Congo were second best throughout the first half, going behind early on to the dangerous Patrick Kaddu and then having the frame of the goal come to their rescue just before the break.
Uganda made a hugely promising start and were rewarded in the 14th minute, as Kaddu got in front of the oblivious Cedric Bakambu to glance a header in at the near post from Farouk Miya's corner.
That should have jolted DR Congo into action, but Uganda continued to pile the pressure on – Kaddu inexplicably heading wide from close range just four minutes after the goal.
Michael Azira then saw his 20-yard drive skim the top of the crossbar in the 41st minute, shortly before DR Congo finally showed signs of life in attack, with Bakambu forcing a stunning save from Denis Onyango.
DR Congo's task became even tougher just two minutes into the second period – Okwi meeting Miya's left-wing free-kick with a looping header that beat Ley Matampi from about 16 yards.
Jonathan Bolingi almost pulled one back when his header hit the top of the crossbar with 20 minutes to go, but Uganda held firm to secure the points.
KEY OPTA FACTS
- DR Congo lost their first AFCON group stage game since January 2006 (0-2 against Cameroon), last edition played in Egypt. They lost their opening game in the competition for the first time since January 2004 (1-2 against Guinea).
- Uganda kept only their second clean sheet in 20 AFCON games, their last being a 3-0 win against Morocco in March 1978.
- Farouk Miya has been involved in Uganda's last three goals at the Africa Cup of Nations (1 goal, 2 assists).