Uganda: Govt Starts Registers Small Scale Miners

Government has started registering artisans largely to streamline the local mining sector.

Peter Lokeris, the minister of state for minerals, said the registration is meant to update the data base of all artisans since government doesn't know how many they are in the country.

While launching the Biometric registration for artisanal and small scale miners (BRAM) in Kampala recently, Lokeris said the process began with sensitizing miners, artisans, local government leaders and officials from all mining communities in the country.

Don Bwesigye, the executive director of Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral, explained that through registration, illegal mining will be tamed following the eviction of artisanal and small scale miners from Mubende district in 2017 at the urging of President Museveni.

"We were selected by the government to help register artisanal and small scale miners and this will be done in the next 18 months; the registration will solve emerging is- sues of land and concessions," he said.

Bwesigye said that while government is still working on the Mineral Policy, the Africa Centre for Energy and Mineral is committed to organizing small scale artisans to benefit from the sector.

Didas Muhumuza, the Extractive Governance Coordinator at Action Aid, said miners have many challenges because they are disorganized yet they have the potential to improve the economy by paying taxes and bringing foreign exchange.

"As Action Aid, we want to legalize and domesticate mining in Uganda; the sector can contribute up to 5 per cent of the GDP if well organized and monitored and this will push the country to another level of development," he said According to Lokeris, 90 per cent of minerals are artisanal mined and there are over 100,000 artisan miners.

"We have realized that over 50 per cent are artisan women but the challenge is that about 80 per cent are unlicensed hence it is hard to track them in case of any problem and they are hard to tax," he said.

Jane Ahimbisibwe, a miner from Buhweju district, said registration is good but small scale miners need to be helped to stop using rudimentary tools.

"We need machinery in order to grow, but also we believe registration will help curb land grabbing and more women will get involved...," she said Saad Kajoba, the public relations officer for United Miners Assembly - Mubende, said registration will help people get individual licenses rather than sub licenses.

"We have been getting sub licenses and the owner of the license could at will revoke it without following the law, I have hope that locals will now be given first priority in licensing," he said.

United Miners Assembly -Mubende has over 20,000 members from different associations

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