By Isaac Tugume Nyabinghi
Despite the fact that mining and trade in Uganda’s gold are being carried out clandestinely in the country, latest reports indicate that gold exports more than doubled in 2019 compared with the previous year, according to data from the Central Bank.
An official at the Bank of Uganda attributed the surge to soaring demand for bullion and larger refining capacity.
It is reported that Uganda shipped USD1.25 billion worth of gold last year, compared with USD514.8 million exported in the previous 12 months.
Adam Mugume, executive director in charge of research at the Bank of Uganda, revealed that the surge in gold trade was due to a growing international demand for the precious mineral and a boost in Uganda’s refining capacity.
“There’s high demand for gold. Most people are moving away from currencies into gold holding,” Mugume said.
He added that; “So long as there’s demand for gold people will source for it from all over the country.”
It should be noted that shipments of gold had been negligible for Uganda but they started rising sharply after a major refiner, Africa Gold Refinery, opened shop in 2016.
Uganda’s gold shipments stood at under USD10 million about decade ago, but in 2018 gold for the first time overtook coffee as Uganda’s biggest export.
Three smaller refineries have since been commissioned, adding to the country’s processing capacity and allowing Uganda to slowly emerge as a regional gold trading hub despite low domestic production of the metal.
Mugume estimated Uganda’s own domestic gold production, mostly dominated by small-scale wildcat miners, at less than USD50m.
The four refineries source their gold from regional countries, including Democratic Republic of Congo, where rights activists previously blamed parts of the mineral trade for fueling militia violence.
Mugume said that last year’s jump in exports was also caused by the large consignment of gold that the African Gold Refinery imported from sanctions-hit Venezuela and subsequently re-exported.
In the near term, Uganda is likely to continue recording large year-on-year increases in bullion exports as the country continues to grow as the region’s trading hub for the metal, he said.
Gold Dealers In Uganda
Although there are very many gold dealers in Uganda, here are some of the renowned ones;
He is known to several city businessmen for cutting gold deals. Baker was recently arrested shortly before Don Nasser’s arrest and these two have been working closely together.
This businessman was released from prison in Dubai where he spent several months after being arrested over allegations of dealing in fake gold. In Kampala, he moves around as a well-connected dealer.
Njuba, who is the director for Land Matter at State House, runs AUC with Moses Masagazi. Her gold mines are situated in Kamalenge-Bukuya, Kassanda, in Mubende district and most of the gold mined from there is sold in the UK and Dubai.
Jordan Katana Of Muyenga Wing
Operating under a company called Nile Refinery, Katana and group, the Muyenga Group keep their gold ingots in Diamond Trust Bank. Recently they exported over 3.5 tonnes of gold to Dubai. This Group involves people like Gen. Gad Ngabo, Michael Okita, a one Chantal and its members are friendly with top army generals.
He operates in Muyenga but stays in Bukasa. He is very well connected and sometimes reaches State House. He is among the millions of Rwandans who have made Uganda their home and he contributed to the construction of a Museum at Ggolo memorial site in Mpigi district, where Rwandans living in Uganda normally go to commemorate the 1994 Genocide.
Mohammed and Hani Salem of Sheraton Wing
The Sheraton Wing is commanded by a Pakistani only identified as Mohammed. He operates a jewelry shop and is said to have a safe full of gold. He exports gold to Dubai directly. He works with Hani Salem, a tycoon based in Switzerland. Salem trades behind the company; Ubaltro IPI Finance, which has branches in Panama, London and Italy.
Samuel Kakande And Francoise Bozize
These ones operate under Naguru Wing, which is commanded by former Central African Republic Bozize, who is based in Naguru. He works with a section of Ugandans who trade in gold. The company of this wing is coordinated by Bozize’s daughter a one Shina. This wing involves many people including but not limited to Prophet Samuel Kakande, Johnson Muwanguzi and several other Ugandans.
This group is based in Kololo near Summit View. It is led by a one Akim, who rents an apartment where they operate from. They work for and sell their gold to Sheikh Mansour, the owner of City Football Group, which consists of Manchester City F.C, Melbourne City F.C and New York City F.C.
Taban Amin- West Nile Group
This wing is coordinated by former president Iddi Amin Dada’s son Taban Amin. He works closely with James Nyakuni. Nyakuni is a prolific businessman who also owns Ggagaa Buses. Under them is another group that supports Onduparaka Football Club. They trade in gold directly from D.R Congo. Their agents use KKT Bus Company which pries the Arua – Wacha route.
A.P. Bhimji LTD
This company one is run by the Bhimji Family, who are also prominent gold dealers in Uganda. Between 2002 and 2006, A.P Bhimji, UCI and Machanga controlled 90% of the gold officially exported from Uganda, with 17 other smaller operators making up the difference. Machanga and UCI also sourced gold from Kivu province (DRC) and sometimes via Bujumbura in Burundi.
He is a commissioner at the Directorate of Geological Survey and Mines (DGSM), who is also said to be deeply involved in gold deals and trading in other precious minerals across East and Central Africa.
This one is the proprietor of Ntahangwa Mining in Burundi, which ferries most of its gold Kampala, where it is refined and late re-exported to Dubai. Mutoka has links to high ranking wealthy army officers.
It is run by a businessman with good political connections and it buys its gold from Congo and some Ugandans dealers.
He is a wealthy businessman in Mbale district and a prominent gold dealer. He got a mineral deal last year from Chinese at a hotel in Ntinda and walked away with a cool USD2m (almost Shs7bn). He also does gold dealing with some Kenyans.
The Talent Africa promoter is a wealthy Kampala businessman with several ventures which include a private security company. According to sources, Ali has been involved in several gold dealing whereby he buys ingots, nuggets and gold jewelry from dealers, which he re-sales.
Maj. Juma Seiko
He is another UPDF officer who is said to be deeply involved in gold trade. He is said to have done gold errands for a top army General. He got involved in the lucrative trade when it emerged that there were gold deposits in Kapchorwa.