By Zulfah Namatovu
The Minister of State for Minerals Hon Peter Lokeris has called upon all banking institutions to help miners’ access financial help in terms of loans.
He was speaking at the opening of a two day -4th annual ASM conference and launch of the great lakes mining and energy transition under the theme: ”Our shared responsibility in shaping the green energy transition and climate change adaptation” in Kampala.
The Conference was organised and sponsored by the Africa Center for Energy and Minerals Policy (ACEMP) led by the Executive Director Mr. Don Bwesigye Binyina and Mr. Chris Musiime , the Program Director.
In Uganda, more than 90% of the mining sector is in the hands of ASMs who are estimated to be well over 1 million Ugandans, a significant percentage of whom are engaged in gold mining. During the dialogue small scale miners from districts around the country including Karamoja and Busia, gathered to find solutions to the various challenges they face.
The minister directed all financial institutions to grant miners loans because the kind of work they do is legitimate and very profitable. ‘’ These miners shouldn’t be denied loans in case they come to you for help. Their jobs are genuine and am sure they cannot fail to pay back the loans because their work is profitable,’’ Lokeris stated.
At the meeting some miners said that they don’t understand the on-line license application processes because of their limited education and luck of computer skills . They also complained about length loan application process in financial institutions and the security requirements that banks demand before one access a credit facility .
Ms.Josephine Aguttu a miner in Busia district said mining companies don’t give adequate compensation to the local communities where they carry out their mining activities.
‘’ The mining companies take advantage of the ignorance of the residents and give them less compensation compared to what they are supposed to get leading to disputes between the miners and the local communities ’’.
Poor infrastructure in the districts where mining takes place was another big challenge which was pointed out by the participants to the communities.
Hon.Francis Mwijukye MP Buhweju Countysaid that the Chinese companies that carryout mining should honour their financial obligations to the local governments where operate in order to help improve on the roads and schools infrastructure in the communities.
Responding to the complaints Minister Lokeris asked miners to embrace the online license application that saves time and reduces on the red tape and corruption .It also helps the miners to avoid travelling long distances to have their applications processed.
The Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral Policy (ACEMP) launched the first Annual ASM Conference and Exhibition in June 2019 as a platform for ASMs to showcase their work, make their voices heard and interact with Government Agencies, Civil Society, the Private sector and Development Partners.
The annual Mkutano will provide a safe, just, equitable and respectful space for dialogue and engagement to facilitate learning, sharing, exchange of information and building solidarity between and amongst the different actors on energy, mining, Climate Change Justice, Adaptation and Mitigation, implementation of the Africa Mining Vision, Critical Minerals Supply Chains, sector governance issues like respect for human rights.