By Ibrahim Kasita
Uganda plans to change the mineral licensing regime in order to attract competitive investors, the permanent secretary in the energy ministry, said on Monday.
The current licensing policy is based on first come first service basis, which deprives the country of good resource rent which would otherwise accrue through competitive bidding.
“The licensing policy and regulatory regime is not robust enough to ensure strong governance,” Kabagambe-Kaliisa, said at the on-going the first mineral wealth conference at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
Kaliisa reasoned that the “first come, first serve” licensing regime was retrogressive because limited due-diligence is done on applicants (companies) to ensure financial and technical capacity.
“There is excessive speculation and several licensees (companies) are in default of the terms and conditions of mineral rights,” Kaliisa noted.
“There are no work programmes executed and licensees are just sitting on acreage (licensed areas). No returns being filed (and there is) transfer of licenses with no work done.”
The change in policy comes at a time when several mineral targets have been identified as a result of the airborne geophysical, geological and geochemical surveys carried out.
Tumusiime-Mutebile, the Bank of Uganda governor, said revenues from natural resources should be invested in infrastructure like roads, railways and electricity as well as in education to build quality human resources capital.
“Strengthening transport and power infrastructure could reduce significantly the cost of doing business in Uganda,” he said.
Elly Karuhanga, the Uganda Chambers of Mines and Petroleum boss, said there was a need to create necessary investment to attract investors into the mining sector.