The sixth annual Mineral Wealth Conference opened this morning at the Kampala Serena Hotel, with discussions centering on how to fully exploit the discovered minerals so far, for the benefit of all Ugandans.
The opening day which was attended by about 500 local and international delegates saw a number of speakers explain the need for government to put in place strong policies that will formalize the mining sector as well as make it more commercially viable for Africa’s economic growth.
Giving out his remarks, the guest of honor, Albert Muchanga, the commissioner trade and industry African union commission, noted that Africa, particularly, Uganda is very blessed with natural resources and yet it continues to suffer from economic hardships mainly because of poor policies and management.
“What Africa needs is to refocus, identify its priorities and work hard towards achieving those priorities. We have the resources that could make Africa a first class economic continent, however we continue to lag behind due to inefficiency of the available polices,” Muchanga said.
In his opening remarks, Dr Elly Karuhanga, the Chairman, Uganda Chamber of Mines & Petroleum (UCMP), said: “We have not been listening to our minerals ‘knocking on our door’; asking to be exploited so as to make us wealthy. By choosing this theme ‘Minerals: Knocking on the door to cause economic transformation in Uganda’ we at the UCMP are again asking everyone to listen to this knock and do all that is necessary to gainfully exploit these natural riches so that Uganda can develop,”
Karuhanga also believes that the time is ripe for Ugandans to position themselves to supply the products and services needed for the industry.
The conference is organized by the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum in collaboration with the Ministry Of Energy and Minerals Development.
Delegates are from South Africa, West Africa, the USA, Canada, China, the United Kingdom, Australia, Brazil, Belgium, the African Minerals Development Centre (AMDC), the World Bank and the African Development Bank and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), who are the major sponsors.
Standard Chartered Bank is also among the sponsors.
Edwards Katto, the Director, Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM) believes recent changes in the legal and policy framework should go a long way in making Uganda a much more attractive outfit for high value foreign direct investments.
Some of the changes include the introduction of competitive licensing for brown fields instead of allocation of mineral rights in a non-competitive system that encourages speculators.
Katto says there will be need to regulate building (development) minerals such as clay, murram, sand or any stone commonly used for building which were excluded from the definition of minerals in Article 244 (5) of the Constitution.
“We also need to encourage optimization of the fiscal benefits from mining, promotion of local content and value addition as well as management and regulation of artisanal and small scale mining activities,” notes Katto.
The conference which is expected to be officially graced by President Museveni tomorrow also intends to build on the successes of the past five years among them the gains made on the previously prohibitive tax regime which was a major deterrent to mining investments in Uganda.
About the MWC
Happening every October, in Kampala, the Mineral Wealth Conference (MWC) has become East Africa’s principal annual mining event.
It plays a critical role in creating opportunities for Uganda’s domestic and international mining interests.
Launched in 2012 following a partnership between the Uganda Chamber of Mines & Petroleum and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, the MWC has become one of the most eagerly awaited events on Uganda and East Africa’s mining calendar.
The objective is to provide an opportunity for major mineral exploration and mining companies to not only invest in Uganda’s promising mining sector, but to also build joint venture partnerships with local players.
It brings together key policy and decision makers, business leaders, bankers, academics and mining investors from all over the world.