Kyankwanzi District was carved out of Kiboga District by the act of Parliament in July 2010, with eight sub-counties in Kiboga North County. Prior to the creation, district services operated from Kiboga Town, approximately 35 kilometres (22 mi) from Butemba. Further back in the past, Kyankwanzi District was in the Mubende region. The reasons given for forming the district, included the long distances that residents had to travel to access district services at Kiboga

The district name derives from Kyankwanzi Town, 20 km farther away from Kampala-Hoima Road, as the region is historically associated with the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which started the Ugandan Bush War of 1981-86 from cattle-herding Kyankwanzi under the direction of President Museveni. Up to this day, Kyankwanzi serves as the strong foothold of the NRM and hosts the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi Town that provides training to all serving military troops and public servants of Uganda. Meanwhile, Butemba was chosen as the district seat for accessibility and land availability reasons.