Last month, March this year, European Union (EU) Mineral Development in partnership with United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released a baseline assessment and value chain analysis program report for the development mineral sector in Uganda.
Major findings from the report indicated that the development (Artisan) mineral in Uganda was growing with over 390,000 Ugandans, 44% of these being women, directly benefiting from the development minerals sector while 2.5m people, 7% of all Ugandan population were benefiting indirectly.
The same report indicated that the sector was limited by lack of access to finances and weak regulatory policies from the government.
Following the release of the report, ACP-EU development minerals program in partnership with the African Guarantee Fund (AGF) for small and medium sized enterprises launched an inclusive financing for SME’s in the development minerals sector worth over $12m.
As a step towards achieving this program, UNDP and its partners has organized a 5 day workshop for financial institutions and other players in the mining sector with the aim of enhancing capacity of these institutions on how they can easily finance SME’s through grants.
The workshop which kicked off Monday at Protea hotel in Kampala in presence of dignitaries from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, EU Delegation in Uganda, AGF UNDP, Bank of Uganda, CEOs of financial institutions is expected to discuss and forge ways towards improving the working environment of small miners, the policy and regulatory environment and how these miners can easily access finances/ credit from financing institutions to develop and improve their mines as a way of earning more from this sector.
During the official launch of the workshop, Thomas Tiedemann the head of cooperation EU Delegation in Uganda said that access to financing will help in improving the mining sector especially for development minerals sector which has the potential to create a lot of job employments for youths and women.
“Access to finance is a major challenge to SMEs in the Development Minerals sector. EU and partners like ACP, UNDP, Government of Uganda and AGF are stepping up to support thriving SMEs’ in the sector and we hope to see an improvement in how these SMEs’ operator,” Tiedemann said.
“Since Development minerals are mined locally, they have the potential to generate more local jobs, with a greater impact on poverty reduction. There is immense potential in the sector and SMEs. Financing mechanism and sector specific support will ensure thriving high impact SMEs,” Yemisrach Worku – Senior Economist at UNDP added.
Patrick Lumumba, Capacity Development Officer at AGF said that the fund was interested in SME’s because they are the driving force for developing economies like Uganda.
“AGF’s belief that SMEs are the driving force in creation of jobs and inclusive growth has led to leveraging 1 billion USD to ease their access to finance”.
Robert Kasande, Permanent Secretary, MEMD who represented the Minister of Energy as the guest of honor said that the government was committed to helping this sector grow by putting in place new regulations that will help in legalizing the sector as way of formalizing it and easing access to financial help.