OPINION: Develop the Neglected Development Minerals Sector

By: Philloh Aryatwijuka

Many of us live and work in structures constructed from neglected development minerals (industrial minerals; construction materials; dimension stones; and semi-precious stones). Again Ugandans own land that we sometimes call stony, treatment sandy and not suitable for agriculture and yet this is all wealth.

The neglected development minerals without doubt have close link with the local economy, prostate and have potential to generate more local and accessible jobs for young people with a greater impact on poverty reduction.

For the past 10 years neglected development minerals have played a crucial role in Uganda’s economy through provision of raw materials for the construction sector, information pills employment for ASM miners and widening the tax base.

It should be noted that the construction industry in Uganda has grown from 2.5% past financial year to 5.7% this financial year (UBOS).

This is attributed to urban areas that are mushrooming everywhere with 18% of Ugandans living in urban areas (UBOS 2014). On the other hand the government is undertaking a wide range of big energy and transport projects, including highways, hydropower dams and now a proposed crude oil pipeline and a refinery.

Similarly Global Construction 2025 predicts that emerging construction markets will see growth of 3 to 6% per year. In total, construction in 2025 is expected to exceed the value of $15 trillion and Sub-Saharan Africa is predicted to be the second-highest growth region

This global construction trend is a big economic opportunity for Uganda that is rich in development minerals like sand that is widely used in all construction projects .Without doubt these neglected development minerals can bring us closer to achievement of SDG 9 that is emphatic on infrastructure development, Uganda vision 2040 and Africa Mining Vision.


For this to be achieved neglected development minerals have to be properly regulated and managed to provide employment, increase tax base and sustainably managed taking into consideration the environmental impact of extraction of these minerals.

In Uganda’s case the widely un regulated sector has experienced challenges a perfect example being is the recent concerns about illegal sand mining in Lwera that has raised a lot of concerns most of which were focused on the environmental perspective with less analysis on the economic losses Uganda has made from such un regulated ventures .

According to the United Nations, the annual global consumption of sand amounts to an estimated 40 billion tons, with the global building sector accounting for 75%.This makes sand and gravel the most-used natural resource in the world after water more than oil and gas (2014 United Nations Environment Program report).

This is more reason to regulate sand mining in Uganda and other neglected minerals because of the constant ever growing demand, economic value and their adverse effect their extraction has on the environment.

On Uganda’s part several initiatives have been put in place by the government and key stakeholders to facilitate the development of this sector like the recent review of the mineral policy which has embedded key principles on neglected development minerals development and regulation in the draft final mineral policy.

On the other hand government of Uganda through the Ministry of Energy and mineral development together with development partners have rolled out the ACP-EU Development Minerals Programme which focuses on supporting the small-scale private sector, mining, public institutions and communities in Uganda that operate in the low value mining and materials sector. This programme has special focus on capacity building. Such great initiatives are expected to propel the sector to the next level.

The writer works with Ecological Christian Organization and is a member of the country working group on ACP-EU development minerals programme.

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