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  • Local governments demand exclusive rights to licence artisanal miners

    Mineral–rich districts of Uganda want to be granted exclusive rights to licence and regulate artisanal miners in their respective districts.  “In the new law, licensing of artisanal miners should be made a preserve of local governments in the mining areas,” Mr. John Asiimwe, Buhweju district chairman said.  Buhweju is one the gold mining districts in the country.

    Asiimwe was speaking during a consultative meeting on the Mining and Minerals Bill, 2019 at Oxford Hotel in Mbarara.  The meeting was organised by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) in partnership with Global Rights Alert – a civil society organisation.

    Asiimwe argues that the current Mining Act, 2003, centralizes licensing authority in the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) which is even under-staffed to inspect and monitor the activities of artisanal miners.

    “This power [to licence artisanal miners] should be decentralised. Let licencing and regulation be left to respective districts. However, the bill maintains the old order of licensing that excludes local governments,” he emphasised.  

    In its current form, the bill takes away licencing powers of the Director of the DGSM and vests them in the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development except for building substances (development minerals). Asiimwe expressed gratitude that the bill at least recognises the rights of artisanal and small scale miners. The bill establishes a framework for licensing, regulation and monitoring of artisanal mining activities and collection of revenues from artisanal miners. It replaces location licences with artisanal mining permits.

    According to the bill, artisanal mining permits are a preserve of only Ugandan citizens, cooperative societies, registered associations comprising of exclusively Ugandan citizens or registered companies where 100 percent of shares are held by Ugandans.

    In its current form, the bill only grants powers to local governments to licence and regulate artisanal exploitation of building substances (development minerals) in collaboration with the DGSM. Building substances also known as Low Value Minerals or development minerals include stones (quarrying), sand, clay and murram. These were previously un-regulated under the Mining Act, 2003.


    Asiimwe also expressed concern over the sharing of mineral royalties. According to the Mining Act, 2003, royalties are shared among central government (80 percent), local governments (17 percent) and land owners (3 percent). The bill maintains the formulae for sharing royalties.

    “What criteria were used in determining the formulae? We need an equitable format for sharing of royalties and not the central government taking everything and leaving left-overs to local governments and land owners,” Asiimwe said.

    Participants in the meeting proposed a change in the formulae of sharing royalties. They proposed central government should take 50 percent, district local governments, 40 percent while the 10 percent should go to the land owners.

    Vicent Kedi, the Principal Engineer in charge of mining at the DGSM welcomed proposals from stakeholders, especially mining communities.  “The draft bill is just a working document to direct discussions. Therefore, consultations are meant to come up with a document [law] that is agreeable to all Ugandans,” Kedi said. Recently, government launched national-wide consultations on the bill, before it is tabled in parliament for enactment.

    By; Edward Ssekika, Edited by Muhumuza Didas

  • CSOs want EITI principles to be enacted into a local law

    CSOs’ argument is based on the voluntary nature of EITI principles and therefore there is need for legally binding local framework with sanctions for non-compliance.

    A section of civil society organisations wants Uganda’s government to enact Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) principles into a local law.  In an open letter dated August 12, 2019 and addressed to the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), Hon. Matia Kasaija – in whose docket EITI falls, civil society organisations argue that since EITI principles on transparency and accountability are voluntary, there is need to translate them into a legally binding local law with sanctions for non- compliance.

    “Government has set October 2019 as the month in which the country will formally apply to join the EITI. However, while we appreciate government’s efforts to join EITI, we note with grave concern that events taking place in the country today show that government is not ready to join and make proper use of the EITI,” a letter signed by 15 civil society organisations reads in part.

    In their letter, CSOs argue that there are many cases that show lack of commitment to transparency on part of government including failure to implement relevant laws such as the 2015 Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). Since the enactment of the PFMA in 2015, government has continued to violate its provisions on transparency and accountability with impunity, CSOs claim. The PFMA provides for the collection, management and utilisation of Uganda’s oil revenues in a transparent and accountable manner.

    “In the presence of such abuses, it is clear that unless fundamental reforms in government are undertaken as part of the EITI process, there is little hope, if any, that joining EITI will help address the problems of lack of transparency and accountability for Uganda’s oil revenues,” the letter reads.

    For instance, the Shs 6 billion reward paid to 42 government officials for their participation in the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) negotiations and engagements against Tullow Oil in Landon – popularly known as the ‘Presidential handshake’ is a clear illustration of wasteful expenditures.  In addition, government has since not fully implemented the recommendations from the report on Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise (COSASE) that investigated the reward.

    “Such a government cannot be trusted to comply with EITI principles which are voluntary. An executive that refuses to be held accountable and disrespects parliamentary decisions is unlikely to comply with EITI principles,” CSOs argue in their open letter.

    The letter adds, “This non-compliance with a binding law creates suspicion that government will not respect and comply with the EITI principles which are voluntary,” the letter reads in part.

    “Government should ensure that after joining EITI, an EITI bill is tabled before parliament to enact an EITI law in Uganda. To enable compliance to the EITI law, the law should provide for formation of a multi-stakeholder committee with representatives from government, CSOs, cultural leaders, religious leaders, academics and the private sector. The committee should among other things be the overall overseer of the Petroleum Fund, the Petroleum Investment Fund and should be responsible for the selection of development projects to be funded with oil revenues. The law should provide that the decisions of the committee are binding on government,” the letter reads.

    Ntegyereize Gard Benda, the Chairperson Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Uganda chapter concurs. “The only sanction that the EITI provides is a suspension which may not matter to government. Therefore, it is important that we have domestic safeguards in terms of a law to compliment the voluntary EITI principles,” Benda argues. 

    By: Edward SsekikaEdited by Muhumuza Didas

  • Government embarks on multi-stakeholder consultations on the new mining bill, 2019

    Civil society organisations describe the new Mining and Minerals Bill, 2019 as progressive.

    Government started country-wide consultations on the new Mining and Minerals Bill 2019 that seeks to improve the management of the minerals sub-sector. The Mining and Minerals Bill, 2019 will repeal the Mining Act, 2003. Uganda has a huge mineral potential that once exploited and revenues well managed has potential to spur economic growth and development. However, the weak and obsolete legal and regulatory framework has been blamed for the sluggish development of the sub-sector.

    Launching the stakeholders’ consultations on the bill at Imperial Royale Hotel, the Minister of State for Minerals Development, Hon. Peter Lokeris emphasised the need for stakeholders especially mining communities to provide their views on the bill.

    “Please note, at this stage the bill [Mining and Minerals Bill 2019] is a working document and we look forward to your input to enrich it so that it effectively addresses the challenges in the mineral sub-sector in this country,” Lokeris said.

    Onesmus Mugyenyi, the Deputy Executive Director of Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) welcomed the Mining and Minerals Bill 2019 as a step in the right direction. “Under the Mining Act 2003, if you want to apply for a licence, it was first come, first serve. So, those individuals who had information about the minerals sub-sector, would take that advantage and put in applications. Now, what the new bill is proposing is competitive bidding which is a good step,” Mugyenyi explained.

    He added, “What the new bill is looking at is how does the country formalize and empower the sub-sector so that the citizens can maximize benefits”

    Vincent Kedi, a Mining Engineer at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) in the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD), says the bill provides for punitive sanctions for none compliance. “Importantly, the bill provides for very strong fines, penalties and sanctions regime. The current law [Mining Act, 2003] has a maximum fine of about Shs 2 million. But the new bill provides for improvements regarding penalties for violations and none compliance,” Kedi explained.

    He adds that the bill also seeks to regulate substances which were excluded in the definition of minerals in the Constitution. These that are often referred to as development minerals include: sand, clay, marram and stones which when exploited on a commercial basis will be categorised as mining and thus their exploitation regulated by government.  According to the Bill, no person will be authorised to exploit sand, clay, marram and stone on a commercial basis without a licence.

    Speaking at the same event, Simon Peter Kinobe, the President Uganda Law Society (ULS) said the new law should promote local content and preservation of the environment. “As Uganda Law Society we are insisting on the local content element, Ugandans should benefit, the government should benefit and so should the investors. Our environment should be preserved and the best practices emphasized,” Kinobe said.

    Arthur Bainomugisha, the Executive Director of ACODE asked government to aim at creating a law that promotes meaningful investment in the sector. “We must create a law that attracts serious investors that will create good jobs for our people in the mining industry,” he explained. 

    By: Edward SsekikaEdited by Muhumuza Didas

  • EACOP affected districts want more jobs for local people

    Local people from districts that will be traversed by the East African Crude Oil Export Pipeline (EACOP) project want government and oil companies to grant special treatment in the oil pipeline related jobs. Government and joint venture partners – Total E&P Uganda, CNOOC Uganda Ltd and Tullow Oil Uganda are currently engaged in land acquisition processes for the pipeline.

    “At the beginning of the project, we were told that our local people with the requisite qualifications, would be given jobs. But now, even Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) and even drivers are from other districts,” George William Katokoozi, the Chairman, Sembabule District Land Board (DLB) recently told Oil in Uganda. He explained that excluding pipeline host communities from oil jobs is setting a bad precedent and could be the beginning of the “oil curse”. “We have some of our sons and daughters who are qualified. We have drivers from Sembabule, why can they not be given jobs in New Plan, ICS and other companies working on the EACOP. Why are our local people being discriminated against?” Katokoozi angrily wondered.

    The 1,445 kilometre heated pipeline will traverse the districts of Hoima, Kikuube, Kakumiro, Gomba, Sembabule, Lwengo, Kyotera & Rakai on the Ugandan side. These districts will host a series of infrastructure projects such as construction camps, pump and heating stations among others. Speaking at Mbirizi Catholic Social Centre in Lwengo district, Ssensalire Christopher, Lwengo district Vice Chairman concurred with Katokoozi. Ssensalire wants EACOP related companies to put a certain percentage of qualified local persons they should employ from EACOP affected districts. “One of the ways through which our local people can benefit from the oil and gas sector is local employment. So, our people are side-lined, as leaders we get concerned,” Ssensalire said.


    Local leaders also expressed fears that some of the irregularities experienced in land acquisition for the proposed oil refinery could be repeated in land acquisition for the pipeline. “We have heard complaints of delays in compensation from people in Hoima [people affected by the oil refinery]. We need an assurance that such delays will not be repeated in the EACOP affected districts. It is a fear calling for serious action and is expressed by the project affected persons,” Ssensalire said.  He asked government to consider training project affected persons (PAPs) on financial literacy before compensation to ensure that PAPs do not put compensation money to waste.

    “There are some things they may not do to save, so leaders should be vigilant.  He challenged leaders in Rakai and Kyotera to understand the value of compensation rates and fight to get fair rates. They should mind about their people. Leaders should work for the interest of their people,” he explained.

    Ssenyonjo Stephen, Chairperson Local Council III of Lwebitakuli Sub-county, Sembabule district asked district leaders where the oil pipeline passes to press government to have meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for better delivery of benefits to the local populations.

    By: Edward Ssekika,Edited by Muhumuza Didas

  • Registration of employers on the national oil and gas talent register


    The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) is established under the Petroleum Exploration, Development and Production (PEDP) Act of 2013 to monitor and regulate oil and gas activities in the country.

    This includes ensuring that petroleum operations in Uganda are carried out in accordance with the relevant laws, regulations and in line with international best practice for the petroleum industry. The PAU is required, amongst other obligations, to monitor the participation of Ugandans in the sector by ensuring that National Content as a statutory requirement is adhered to.

    Employment of Ugandans is among the key National Content areas spelt out   in   the regulatory   framework.

    Specifically, Regulation 31(1-2) of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) National Content Regulations 2016, requires the Authority to put in place a National Human Capacity Register to aid the monitoring of human capacity.

    The PAU in consultation with key stakeholders, therefore designed an e-government monitoring system called the National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) where all talent in the oil and gas sector is encouraged to register. This system was launched on 1st February, 2019 and is fully functional. Over 1,000 talent and 97 companies have registered on the system as of 28th May, 2019.The NOGTR is classified into the supply and demand side users. The supply side users include individuals who meet the eligibility requirements for the workforce demands of the oil and gas sector and are likely to be recruited by the demand side users.

    The demand side users consist of the International Oil Companies, contractors, subcontractors, International oil servicing companies, skills development providers and manpower recruiting agencies. The demand side also includes all Government entities required to navigate the system to identify and possibly recruit/ contract qualified engineers, technicians and other skilled and basic skilled workers across oil and gas projects. All companies that have registered on the National Supplier Database (NSD) are automatically entitled to credentials for the NOGTR system.

    The PAU hereby invites all companies and Government entities to post all their jobs on the NOGTR system and also consider recruiting from the portal to aid in achieving the Authority’s objective of employing Ugandans in the oil and gas related activities.

    The system enables all the potential employers to access information, search for suitable candidates and extend requests to qualified candidates to apply for the job openings.

    The Authority also requests companies that are registered on the NSD but have never got their login credentials of the NOGTR to communicate to the Authority for further assistance.

    Registration to the NOGTR is free and the Authority guarantees automatic inclusion of a company that is registered on the NSD.


  • Oil money: Is gov’t emptying the Petroleum Fund?

    Finance Minister Matia Kasaija

    Latest reports on the inflows, outflows and assets of the Fund reveal a patterns of irregular withdrawals of monies to the consolidated fund to finance budget deficits.

    A new report from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development reveal that has withdrawn Shs 200bn from the Petroleum Fund to finance budget deficits. A semi-annual report to Parliament on the inflows, outflows and assets of the petroleum fund for the period ended 31st December, 2018 indicate the money was withdrawn to finance the 2018/2019 budget priorities. The report is authored by Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

    According to the report, by June 2018, the Fund had Shs 507 billion mainly from Capital Gains Tax, surface rentals, technology and training fees from oil companies as well as signature bonuses from the signing of Production Sharing Agreements with Nigeria’s Oranto Petroleum Limited and Australia’s Armour Energy Ltd.

    According to the report, the Fund stands at Shs 288.7bn as at December, 2018.  “This is a reduction in the Fund value reported as in June 2018 report, which stood at Shs 507 billion,” the report notes. “The report details the status of the Fund for six months ending 31st, December, 2018.

    “In accordance with section 61(1) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 as amended, this is to lay on table the semi-annual report of the Petroleum Fund for the financial year 2018/2019,” Kasaija’s wrote in a letter forwarding the report to the Speaker of Parliament. Kasaija’s letter is dated March, 28th, 2019. The Public Finance and Accountability Act, 2015, mandates the Minister of Finance to report to parliament on the status of the Fund in terms of inflows, outflows and assets every after six months.

    Justifying the withdrawals, Lawrence Semakula, the Accountant General recently said, “We have all these priorities such as financing infrastructure, so what do we do when we have a deficit. Rather than go out and borrow, we would rather use the money from the Fund,” he told Members Parliament.

    The report notes that since production has not yet started, nil volumes and values of petroleum production have been reported.

    “The further notes that during the reporting period, URA collected petroleum related taxes worth Shs 30.3bn of which Shs 2.5bn had not been submitted to the Fund by closing of the reporting period,” the report reads in part.


    Analysing the audited reports from the Petroleum reveal a trend of withdrawals that the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has sometimes described as irregular.  For instance, a report for 2017 reveals that in November, 2017 Shs 125 billion was transferred from the Petroleum Fund to the consolidated fund to finance budget. Another Shs 200bn was also withdrawn from the Fund to the consolidated fund to finance 2018/2019 budget priorities.

    The Auditor General in a report to parliament described the withdrawal as irregular since it didn’t follow the procedures and processes laid down in the Public Finance and Accountability Act, 2015. The same Act, ring fences oil revenues to finance only infrastructure projects following an Appropriation Act.


    The Petroleum Fund is maintained in two separate accounts in the Bank of Uganda (BoU) –one account denominated in Uganda Shilling (UGX) and another in United States Dollars. “Another account was opened in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to facilitate investments of the fund under the Petroleum Revenue Investment Reserve,” the report reads in part.

    Edward Ssekika

  • National Oil and Gas Talent Register to boost employment of Ugandans in the sector

    The National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) will boost employment of Ugandans in the nascent oil and gas sector, according to Mr. Ernest Rubondo, the Executive Director, Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU).

    On 1st February, the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) launched the National Oil and Gas Talent Register. At the launch, Rubondo explained that the the talent register is open to all qualified Ugandans. Registration of Ugandans on the register started on February, 1, 2019. Rubondo added that the register is meant to boost local content and bridge gaps between employers and employees in the oil and gas sector.

    “Registration is continuous and free of charge. However, this does not waive competition for the available jobs. There are over 400 job profiles on the National Oil and Gas Talent Register [NOGTR],” he added. Ugandans will be required to update their profiles once a year. “With a human resource register in place, we will be able to demand for a fair consideration for Ugandan employees because it will be easier to identify potential talent.” Rubondo added that the register will constitute a database of available human capacities and technical skills for the oil and gas sector in Uganda. “The register has the demand and supply side users. The demand side users are the companies, Ministries, Government Departments and Agencies (MDAs) which meet the eligibility criteria and offer employment in the sector. On the supply side are individuals who meet eligibility criteria for the work force demands,” Rubondo explained.

    The National Oil and Gas Talent Register promotes the employment of Ugandan Citizens in the sector. One of the areas the National Content Policy for the oil and gas sector provides for is building the capabilities of Uganda’s human resources. This is expected to ease the recruitment processes in the sector and minimize the use of expatriates. The National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR) is one of the initiatives of growing the participation of Uagndan citizens in the nascent oil and gas sector.

    One of the key aspects of the Authority under the regulatory role is to ensure the growing participation of Ugandans in the sector. The Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) is mandated under regulation 31 of the Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) (National Content), Regulations 2016 to establish, maintain and operate a National Human Capacity register herein referred to as the National Oil and Gas Talent Register (NOGTR).

    The same Regulations compel companies involved in the oil and gas sector to ensure that Ugandan citizens are given priority for employment in any petroleum activity. The regulations also restrict issuance of work permits to expatriates.

    The Ministry of Internal Affairs, according to the regulations can only issue a work permit after the Petroleum Authority has furnished evidence that there are no Ugandans on the national talent register qualified for the job. When work permits are granted to an expatriate, the oil companies are required to submit to the Authority for approval a succession plan for all positions not held by Ugandan citizens.

    By Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega

  • Oil jobs: Government to establish Petroleum Skills Development Fund

    Geoffrey Gokaka (L), Immaculate Namuleme, Kato Tonny Magembe and French Ambassador H.E Sophy Makame

    Oil jobs: Government to establish Petroleum Skills Development Fund At least $ 44.7m will be injected in the fund in the next 8 years to skill Ugandans for Oil jobs In order to increase the number of Ugandans with appropriate qualifications and skills to take up jobs in the oil and gas sub-sector, government plans to establish a fund – the Petroleum Skills Development Fund. The fund is expected to finance trainings and skilling of Ugandans to match the skills and certifications required in the oil and gas industry. The proposal to establish a skills development fund for the oil sub-sector is contained in the Workforce Skills Development Strategy and Plan for the oil and gas sub-sector in Uganda that was launched late 2018. The aim of the workforce skills development strategy and plan is meant to maximise the quantity and quality of employment opportunities for Ugandans in oil, gas and other related sectors. According to the workforce skills development plan, the oil and gas subsector is expected to create at least 161,700 jobs (at peak during the construction phase of the entire planned infrastructure for the up-stream and mid-stream developments). Of these, 14,000 will be direct, 42,700 indirect and 105,000 induced jobs. Once the construction phase will be completed, there will be limited opportunities since the project(s) shall not require many people to run it. However, most Ugandans are left out in jobs due to lack of requisite skills, qualifications and certifications. “The main impediment to employing a larger share of Ugandans in the petroleum sub-sector is a shortage of personnel with adequate education and training coupled with inadequate related work experience. The main thrust of the Ugandan national content effort shall therefore be directed at building the capabilities of Ugandan personnel for contributing effectively to petroleum operations,” the strategy paper reads in part. A total of $ 44.7 million dollars (Approximately Shs 163 billion) will be injected into the fund in the next eight years (up to 2025). “The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will have its funds replenished by allocating a percentage of revenue generated by international oil companies (IOCs) and Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractors and/or subcontractors to dedicated training activities each year,” the strategy paper reads. Government also plans to levy a fee of 2% payable on the total gross emoluments paid to international employees and the total gross payments made in respect of labour-only contractors, to raise money for the fund. “In its first five years of operation, the Petroleum Skills Development Fund will be supplemented by a straightforward tax on foreign workers. Such a levy would involve a single one-off payment of $10,000 imposed on all oil & gas employers for every foreign worker brought into Uganda who is not a national of the East African Community”, the strategy reads. According to the skills development strategy, the Ministry of Finance working in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will have responsibility for designing and overseeing the mechanism for verifying and collecting these funds. The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will be overseen by the National Content Steering Committee which will constitute a separate sub-committee under the leadership of an independent Chair respected by both Government and the international oil industry. The Petroleum Skills Development Fund will have its own dedicated bank account to maintain a clear link between revenues and funds raised from employers and funds allocated to training activities. Without this clear link, international experience shows that employers will lose confidence that funds are being utilized effectively to address their specific skills’ needs. In addition to the funds raised through the payroll training levy and oneoff tax on foreign workers, the Petroleum Skills Development Fund will also be open to contributions from development partners or other agencies with an interest in pooling resources and contributing towards Oil & Gas skills development in Uganda. Edward Ssekika Edited by Flavia Nalubega

  • UNOC, CNOOC to begin joint oil exploration in 2019

    Uganda National Oil Company Ltd signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) to work together to start a partnership in exploration in the Albertine Graben.

    The MoU was signed by Dr. Josephine Wapakabulo, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) UNOC and Fang Zhi, the Chairman of CNOOC International today in Beijing and was witnessed by HE President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Hon. Sam Kuteesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr. William Byaruhanga the Attorney General.

    The MoU indicates that UNOC and CNOOC will work together to develop a block in the Albertine Graben and the two entities intend to start the process of accessing the identified block as soon as possible.

    The purpose of this cooperation is to ensure that more crude oil is discovered to support the projected production profile of already discovered resources that are under development as well as create an avenue for UNOC to grow its exploration capabilities and begin its journey towards a fully-fledged oil company able to perform operatorship roles.

    It is the intention of the two companies to start the process of applying for the identified block in October and start exploration activities as soon as the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) grants them a license.

    It is hoped that the licensing process will not take long and it is planned that the planned activities should start early next year. “UNOC and CNOOC plan to grow their partnership into other operations in and outside of Uganda. UNOC will rely heavily on CNOOC’s experience as a national oil company to grow its capabilities and expertise,” the statement reads in part.

    President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was pleased with the step UNOC and CNOOC were taking in furthering exploration in the Albertine Graben. Dr Josephine Wapakabulo indicated that UNOC is happy to continue building on a very firm and longstanding relationship between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Uganda.

    She confirmed UNOC’s commitment to ensuring sustainable as well commercial exploitation of Uganda’s Crude oil and gas sector. CNOOC, confirmed their continued commitment to Uganda and working with UNOC to ensure national participation as well as supporting UNOC on its journey to operatorship.

    The MoU will be followed by further commercial agreements and it is hoped that these and all relevant approvals will be concluded before end of this year so exploration starts in 2019.

    Edward Ssekika

  • Ministry Moves to Register All Miners


    The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development will biometrically register Uganda’s artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM). This will be in line with a new mineral policy, it says, through its Financial Year 2018/19 policy statement.

    This was revealed and  launched by the Ministry in mid July 2018. The State minister for Minerals, Mr Peter Lokeris,  said the registration is to establish who is involved in artisanal and small-scale mining.

    “You know all minerals belong to the government. But there are some people who know how to spot minerals and start mining illegally,” Mr Lokeris said.

    He added: “This [biometric registration] is meant to streamline [artisanal and small-scale mining] so that we know who is where.” Mr Lokeris said if the government is not in the know who is involved in artisanal and small-scale mining, some of the ASMs could cross borders; mine or sell the illegally mined minerals and conflict.

    Kick off He said the registration is expected to start later this third quarter- in September, although he could not there and then say how much has been budgeted for the exercise. But according to a House Budget Committee May 2018 report, biometric registration of the ASMs will cost $350,000 (about Shs1.3b). Mr Lokeris said the ministry is targeting 1,200 ASMs for a start but would register more and more with time.

    Mr George Onega, a small-scale miner in Busia District, Eastern Uganda, said although he had not been aware of  government’s plans to biometrically register ASMs, he welcomes it. “I support it, 100 per cent. It is very good because if a miner is operating without being known to the government, it will be hard for the government to get royalties,” Mr Onega said.

    Nelson Wesonga, Daily Monitor