The latest United Nations report assessing the gold smuggling racket in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, says 400 million US Dollars (about FCFA 193 billion) was lost by the country in revenue in 2013 as the mineral was smuggled to East African countries.
According to the East African Review, businessmen teamed up with soldiers and politicians to steal DRC minerals, shipping them out via Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania, with the money used in financing eastern DRC's recurrent wars.
The 276-page report by the UN Group of Experts on the DRC says armed conflict, corruption, poor quality of life for citizens, illegal mineral exploitation and interference from neighbouring countries, remain major sources of instability in the DRC.
Kenya and Uganda have become major exporters of gold since the two countries have the infrastructure to transport illegal minerals to international markets. An estimated 20 million people in DRC, Uganda and Rwanda, and to some extent Kenya, depend on the illegal mining of DRC minerals as their only source of livelihood.
Accusations of gold smuggling against Uganda are not new. Some high-ranking military officials were once accused by a UN Panel of involvement in smuggling Congolese minerals and other natural resources. However, Uganda says it now has a mineral processing protocol with the Congolese government and dealings with Congolese gold dealers are above board.