Although details about Uganda’s gold deposits and production capacity remain scanty, the commodity earned Uganda a cumulative $1.4b (Shs5.4 trillion) for the year ended August.
Data from the Central Bank indicates that gold earned Uganda more foreign exchange than any other export with a monthly average of $112.67m (Shs422b).
During the period between August 2019 and August 2020, gold earned $1.4b (Shs5.4 trillion), which was an increase of Shs900b from the $1.2b (Shs4.5 trillion) that the country earned in the same period.
Bank of Uganda indicates that during the 12 months to August, at least 31,490.48 kilogrammes of gold were exported out of Uganda up from 28,651.53 kilogrammes in the same period.
Uganda mainly relies on gold re-exports to boost the country’s exports.
However, details about local production capacity remains highly scanty.
Dr Fred Muhumuza, a Makerere University lecturer and economist, said details about gold remain “highly secretive”, noting much of Uganda’s gold sources “are security and politically sensitive issues”.
Uganda has previously imported gold from Venezuela, which is alleged to have been re-exported.
However, Dr Muhumuza said he was not aware of “how much of this gold remains in Uganda [because] it is not reflected in the reserves”.
Dr Muhumuza also wondered whether government was getting the required taxes from gold, saying no details of tax returns have been publicly published.
Gold has in the last three years become Uganda’s leading foreign exchange earner boosted by growth in processing facilities in the last five years.
Gold exports continue to increase despite low local deposits. Uganda, according to people familiar with details surrounding gold, sources much of its gold from neighbouring countries such as DR Congo.
Mr John Lwere, the Uganda Export Promotion Board trade and information executive, told Daily Monitor in August they were conducting a study involving a number of minerals including gold.
The study, he said, would look at trends and export capacity to understand the contribution of such minerals to the economy.
However, no details have been published since.
Efforts to get a comment from Ms Agnes Alaba, the Commissioner for Mines in the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines were futile.
According to Bank of Uganda, Uganda exports much of its gold to the Middle East with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as the major market.
There has been a rapid increase in gold export revenues, which is partly attributed to the recent increase in demand, especially in the Middle East.
In the 12 months to August total export receipts to UAE stood at $1.495m, of which $1.464m came from gold.
During the same period in the 2018/19 financial year to August exports to UAE stood at $1.219m, out of $1.163m was from earnings from gold.