President Yoweri Museveni has urged mining investors in Uganda and those from abroad to prioritize Value Addition to minerals in order to build a strong base for the economy of the country.
“You should always bear this in mind, Adding Value to minerals so that we get more jobs as well as build technical capacity and a strong base for the economy,” he said.
The President was today the Guest Speaker at the 3rd Annual Conference on Mineral Wealth held at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel under the theme,“Uganda’s Transformation – A New Era in Mining”.
The 2-day conference is attended by members of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum and delegations from several African countries as well as Europe including representatives of financial Institutions in Uganda. Participants are to discuss ‘what it takes to be a winning nation in terms of development and other pertinent issues regarding the mining Industry.
President Museveni, who gave a detailed account of the mineral sector in Uganda, assured investors that government will ensure that all the necessary requirements for adding value to the minerals, will be available.
The President was also grateful to learn from one of the guests from Nigeria, Emeka, that his company is ready to build a gas pipeline from Kanungu to Hoima describing the venture as a God-send help, as the gas will substitute the imported coal required for processing steel from plenty of raw iron ore deposits available in the region.
He told them that government in 2004 injected $24.7 million for the air-borne geological survey and mapping of the minerals in Uganda and more minerals were discovered including the 200 million tons of iron.
He explained that a lot of strong steel today is needed in the country to satisfy the demand for the construction of hydro electricity dams cheaply, the construction of standard gauge railway lines as well as skyscraper buildings. He added that other potential mineral targets have been identified and only need investigation through drilling.
The President clarified that Uganda, being a land locked country, needs a strong railway line for the transportation to the markets of not only mineral products but also other goods nationally, regionally and internationally.
Mr. Museveni assured investors that the NRM government has put in place a very ambitious program for electricity generation that will provide cheap hydro power for the benefit of manufactures in the country. He said this will not only lower costs of doing business but will also attract more investors to the country and boost trade.
The President, who congratulated the emerging Chamber of Mines and Minerals for organizing the conference, also explained to participants the interventions government has and is implementing in order to create a conducive investment environment in the country that include, among many others, peace, provide information and data on minerals, good roads, railway lines, and cheap electricity.
He said that other interventions include the legal stability in terms of tenure of mineral rights, and importation of exploration equipment at zero tax.
He, however, declared that no iron ore will be exported from Uganda even if the deposits take 400 years to exploit as they will serve for future regeneration as well as the regional markets.
The Chairman of the Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Dr. Elly Karuhanga, commended President Museveni for supporting the chamber and making the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) a one-stop investment center by December 2014.
The conference is sponsored by various companies that include Roofings Group; AON Insurance Uganda Limited; Stanbic Bank; Sheraton Hotel and Tororo Cement and the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), among others.
It is attended by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Engineer Irene Muloni, the Minister of State in Charge of Minerals, Peter Lokeris and senior government officials.