President Museveni and Dr. Luisa Moreno discuss Uganda’s mineral sector

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has today met and held discussions with Dr. Luisa Moreno, an expert in finance, business development and technical research, with a focus on Technology, Mining and Metals industries. 

Dr. Moreno, an esteemed Physics Engineer with a PhD in Materials Science and Mechanics from the Imperial College London, UK, has established herself as a leading analyst in rare earth elements and a prolific author on mineral processing and project financing.

During the meeting held at State Lodge, Nakasero, President Museveni and Dr. Moreno discussed strategies to enhance Uganda’s mineral sector.

President Museveni highlighted that the collaboration with Dr. Moreno is geared towards complementing his vision of large-scale industrialization.

He reiterated his long-standing belief in the importance of an integrated and self-sustaining economy.

“What Dr. Moreno is saying is what I have been saying for a long time now. When we came into government, we had a 10-point program, and point number five was building an economy that is integrated, independent, and self-sustaining. That integration is what you are talking about here. We are consuming what we don’t produce and producing what we don’t consume,” he said.

The President also underscored the significant financial losses and missed job opportunities when raw materials are exported without processing.

He provided stark comparisons of the value addition potential, noting that copper increases from $1,350 per tonne to $5,800 when processed into blister-cathode, and bauxite jumps from $45 to $1,800 when refined.

To move forward, President Museveni directed the Ministries of Science and Energy to collaborate with Dr. Moreno in forming a joint team.

“This team will focus on optimising mineral exploration and developing actionable plans for industrial growth,” he said.

“I have given you eight weeks from now. I want you to be part of the solution and implementation of this strategy and integrate it with the Ministries of both Science and Energy to come up with an integrated and implementable proposal,” he noted.

On her part, Dr. Moreno said that her comprehensive work involves three key phases: assessing the current state of Uganda’s mineral and value addition sectors, developing an action plan for implementing recommendations, and focusing on value addition in the metal market industry.

Dr. Moreno said that her extensive travels across Uganda, including areas such as Gulu, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Karamoja, allowed her to gain an in-depth understanding of the country’s mineral sector.

“There are three phases of my work. The first phase involved me travelling throughout the country to assess the mineral and value addition sector. It was important for me to understand the sector to advise the President. When I came in, I had no idea about the challenges and issues on the ground, but now I fully understand them,” she said.

Dr. Moreno highlighted the importance of enhancing steel production and consumption in Africa, noting that the continent produces only 1% and consumes 2% of the global steel output. Additionally, she pointed out the potential for increasing the use of tantalum in electronics manufacturing, a sector currently underdeveloped in Africa.

The second phase of Dr. Moreno’s plan involves proposing an action plan to implement her recommendations.

“This includes assembling a team of geologists for exploration and mining efforts. The third phase emphasises value addition, detailing how Africa can develop its metal market industry through strategic policies and investments,” she said.

Dr. Moreno also emphasised the need for Uganda to diversify its material imports, which are currently dominated by steel, to include copper and zinc. She outlined the economic benefits of value addition, using examples such as the dramatic price increase of lithium from $8,700 per tonne in 2018 to $80,000 per tonne recently, driven by the demand for electric vehicles.

The meeting was also attended by Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero, the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, among others.

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