Uganda earned Shs 590 billion from gold exports in June 2020, in what looks like a resurgence from a slight slump caused by the coronavirus lockdowns.
The earnings in June represent a 21 percent jump on the export earnings which in May stood at Shs 462.4 billion, according to official government data.
The increments are both on the value and volume. On the volume side, gold exports have more than doubled since April when the country instituted a complete lockdown.
According to data provided by Bank of Uganda, the country shipped 3,012 kilograms of gold, a surge from the 2,470 kilograms in May, and 1,180 kilograms exported in April. The volumes were even lower in February and March 2020. A lot of this gold went to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Uganda now has two gold refinery factories – African Gold Refinery in Entebbe and Gold Refinery Uganda in Kampala.
The opening of these refineries has particularly been the cause of the surge in gold that goes through Uganda, according to the central bank.
In his state of the nation address in June, President Yoweri Museveni sounded lyrical of the country’s gold potential.
“We built a gold refinery at Entebbe. That gold refinery was and is still being fought by the neocolonial agents. We shall, however, defeat them,” he said. He added that the refinery is earning USD 1.3 billion (4.8 trillion Shillings) per annum for the country.
“When I was trying to control the mining of gold in Uganda, I was opposed even by members of Parliament. They do not want Uganda to have a gold refinery. Refineries do not belong to countries like Uganda. They should be in Dubai, South Africa, etc., but not in Uganda, according to these enemies,” he said.
Museveni said he would tell Lucy Nakyobe, the Statehouse comptroller to use small innovation funds and ensure that the country starts to teach young Ugandans the skills of jewelry.
“The rich Ugandan ladies will be able to buy the gold jewelry made here instead of squandering money buying the same from distant sources,” he said.
There are, however, serious questions over the source of Uganda’s gold. A report last month in the Wall Street Journal, an American newspaper, said Ugandan dealers were using the cover of coronavirus restrictions to stealthily ship in gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
On several occasions, the United Nations panel of experts has also been on record accusing Uganda of dealing in conflict gold from DRC and Juba.