KAMPALA – Parliament has approved a request by the government to borrow Euros 20.6 million (equivalent to Shs83.6 billion) for the implementation of the airborne geophysical survey and geological mapping of Karamoja.
The loan will be secured from the Corporate Internationalization Fund of Spain.
Presenting the committee report to Parliament sitting on 30 January 2020, the Chairperson of the Committee on National Economy, Hon. Syda Bbumba said that the total cost of the Project is Euro 23.7 million with 85 percent coming from the Corporate Internationalization Fund of Spain and the rest from the Government of Uganda as counterpart funding.
“The loan will be provided in two parts; Euros12.8 million for Geophysical and Geological Mapping with a repayment period of 10 years while Euros7.7 million will be provided for consultancy services for Geophysical and Geological Mapping in Karamoja Region with a repayment period of 50 years,” she said.
According to Bbumba, the survey will cover the Karamoja region which was left out in the Sustainable Management of Mineral Resources Project (SMMRP) in 2004.
The project objective is to increase knowledge of Uganda’s mineral resources and to help identify areas most suitable for more detailed prospecting and exploration through an extensive high-resolution airborne survey.
“As noted earlier, 80 percent of the country was covered by the SMMRP project. The remaining 20 percent which is the Karamoja Region was left out of the survey at that time because of the then prevailing regional circumstances, but it is an area with a high potential in minerals,” she said.
The committee, however, noted that findings from the 2004 survey have not been widely disseminated to potential investors in the mineral sub-sector and she called for wide publishing of the findings.
“Such information has remained privy to a few speculators who have used this information to exploit the unsuspecting Ugandans by either obtaining their land with mineral deposits cheaply or evicting them,” she said.
Legislators called for the project to promote local content arguing that Karamoja has lagged behind in development and the mineral development could be the way out.
Hon. Margaret Baba Diri said that all industries should be constructed in Karamoja as opposed to ferrying the minerals from the region to other areas.
“This will also provide jobs for people of Karamoja instead of them running after cattle all the time,” she said.
Hon. Rose Lilly Akello challenged the government to utilize the loan for the purpose for which it has been borrowed saying that the people of Karamoja deserve to know how much minerals are in the region.
“The people in Karamoja are going to get worried because last year, Euros10 million was borrowed to improve the health sector in the region but nothing has happened; how sure are we that this money this time will serve its intended purpose?” she said.
Hon. Hilary Lokwang said that the loan does not demonstrate how the people of Karamoja would benefit from the project.
“The loan does not support the immediate impact on the people of Karamoja. We have a problem of insecurity, water and roads and now you get loans for surveys instead of getting money which impacts directly on people of Karamoja,” he said.
The Minister of State for Finance, Hon David Bahati said that considerations were made on ensuring that the area is secure.
“We have not had anywhere in Uganda declared a no-fly zone so we think that when we implement what the members have recommended then the situation will be restored in Karamoja,” he said.
Bahati said that the mineral sector is one of the key sectors that will contribute to the development of the country making it important for the exploration of minerals in Karamoja.