MINISTER SARAH OPENDI CALLS FOR INCLUSION OF ARTISAN AND SMALL MINERS IN THE FORMAL ECONOMY TO CREATE JOBS AND REDUCE RURAL-URBAN MIGRATION

The Minister  of State for Mineral Development , Ms. Sarah Achieng Opendi , has called for the inclusion of  the Artisanal and Small Scale Mining (ASM) actors in the formal economy to not only increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by several percentage points but to also create rural employment especially among the youth and reduce rural-urban migration.

This after the minister noted that much as Uganda is endowed with vast amounts of minerals spread across the country , ASM  still operate- predominantly in the informal sector and its economic contribution is not accounted for in the  national statistics.

“As government, through the Ministry of Energy , we seek to develop the mining industry to foster socio-economic transformation and poverty eradication. This goal is clearly stated in the Mining and Mineral Policy for Uganda 2018 and we are committed to achieving it,” Opendi stressed.

The Minister assured  Ugandans that the Ministry is focused  to bring about inclusion in the Energy sector.  This year alone, she noted,  the Energy Ministry granted licenses to artisanal miners in Kassanda and Buhweju Districts.

Ms. Opendi made the remarks while officiating at the occasion to celebrate 100 years of Uganda Geological Survey ,held at the Imperial Resort Beach hotel, Entebbe. The celebrations which were attended by the Ministry of Energy , Permanent Secretary, Mr. Robert Kasande and Under Secretary who is also the Ministry’s Accounting Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Freddie Mugunga,  are also part of the Ministry of Energy Week intended to promote sustainable use of energy in Uganda.

In order to strengthen the various activities within the energy sector, Opendi said the Ministry was engaging various stakeholders including those in the Geological Survey to  discuss aspects of the sector’s  legal and regulatory reforms.

She said the Ministry was also committed to ensuring efficient, equitable, accountable and transparent management of mineral revenues. “We have s improved the mineral licensing process by transitioning into a fully online platform. This will go a long way in ensuring transparency and efficiency as well as reduce bureaucracy and the perceived corruption,” she said.

The  Minister promised that for the next 100 years, the ministry has set in motion  to reviewed the Policy, legal and regulatory framework for the mineral sector, operate a mineral certification system and  carry out Airborne Geophysical Survey of Karamoja.

She said the Ministry will also promote local mineral value addition and improve the mineral laboratories to carryout analysis, carry out tailor made training to build the necessary technical skills base for the sector and  upgrade and maintain the subsectors information management systems and above all , continue   to   promote   and market the   country’s   mineral   investment potential.

Permanent Secretary Kasande  says sector is on a steady promising trajectory

The Permanent Secretary in the  Ministry of Energy , Mr Robert Kasande said the Ministry will continue to carryout geological, geochemical and geophysical surveys to acquire and package information on Uganda’s mineral resources. In addition, it will carry out detailed evaluation of mineral commodities to ensure that there are turned into bankable feasibility studies. 

“These actions have and will continue to provide a basis upon which investments into the sector can flourish and government, we will endeavor to sustain an enabling environment for these investments to ensure that investors accrue returns from their investments and Ugandans also derive the most optimal benefits from mining,” Kasande a seasoned civil Servant and one of the most experienced technocrats at the Ministry stated .

Kasande highlighted some of the achievements registered by the sector of the last 100 years which include , the implemented of an online mineral licensing system that replaced the paper-based and has ushered in a more transparent, robust and efficient mineral licensing regime.

Other achievements are mapping , registering  and organizing  artisanal and small scale miners country wide (70% completed). Biometric registration is in progress and equipped and improved mineral laboratories for value addition tests. “We have built the capacity of Ugandan scientists to effectively manage the sector, undertaken routine servicing and maintenance of the five (5) seismic stations in Entebbe, Hoima, Nakawuka, Kabale, and Mbarara; and currently constructing mineral beneficiation centers to bring value additoin services closer among others, a passionate Kasande stated .

Uganda Update News.com Background to Uganda’s Ministry of  Energy week:

Energy Week is an annual campaign that focuses on sustainable use of energy and energy access. Energy Week, previously known as “Energy Efficiency Week,” started in 2005 with the aim of sensitizing the public about efficient utilization of energy.

Since then, it has become a popular event with over 100 key stakeholders participating. Through this platform, awareness regarding energy use and conservation has been created. It has also become a platform for public authorities, energy agencies, private companies and civil society organisations engaged in Uganda’s Energy Sector to dialogue and exchange ideas and discussions on pertinent energy-related issues.

The Week has further proved to be a good opportunity for organisations and companies to market and sell energy products, technologies and services. It also serves to meet the Government’s commitment to providing Energy for social and economic development in a sustainable manner .

MOSES SSERWANGA

Writer is a media and communications consultant And Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

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