By Hon Richard H. Kaijuka
Uganda is well endowed with mineral resources and like many naturally gifted African countries, is becoming very keen in ensuring that these resources play a transformative role in its long term structural transformation dream – Vision 2040.
This is also in line with the African Union 50 year vision Agenda 2063 as well as the global Agenda 2030 that highlights key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The African Mining Vision stresses that revenues from minerals should be used for development. It also seeks to demystify the “Curse Paradox” that is often associated with the mineral-rich African countries where, upon their discovery, tension and conflicts are often expected to emerge instead of development.
The only assured path to optimize value from the mineral resources is to attract responsible investments into the sector that lead to value addition and industrialization.
In order to attract responsible investments, it is important that a country is knowledgeable of its mineral wealth. This can be achieved through a comprehensive country exploration programme that involves both the private and public sector investments.
The Uganda Mineral Exploration Initiative (UMEXI) is a private sector led initiative that will drive this minerals’ exploration campaign in Uganda.
To operate like a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), UMEXI will be steered by the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP), with support from the African Union Commission.
It will be based on critical success experiences of countries such as Brazil and Australia. The initiative will also benefit from the expertise of development institutions like the World Bank, African Minerals and Geoscience Centre (AMGC – formerly SEAMIC, of which Uganda is a member) as well as the African Union’s African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC).
A full proposal is being developed and will be presented at the Mineral Wealth Conference that takes place on October 5th and 6th, at the Serena Hotel in Kampala. The UCMP invites everyone to this conference to get an insight into what Uganda’s minerals industry is about.
Subsequently, it is hoped that the success of UMEXI will trigger the development of a regional exploration programme.
The execution of UMEXI will be based on a PPP model that is already being realized in other African countries such as the West African Exploration Initiative (WAXI).
It will require the collaboration of the government and the private sector, including mining companies and other institutions that are involved in geological data and information gathering to ensure a countrywide exploration of Uganda’s mineral wealth is completed successfully.
It is envisaged that UMEXI will mobilize about $50 to $100m in the medium term for this comprehensive effort.
The writer is the Vice President of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum and a former Energy Minister