KP Chair visits Uganda

 KP Chair visits UgandaThe UAE Kimberley Process Chair (KP Chair), Ahmed Bin Sulayem visited Uganda as part of ongoing efforts to increase dialogue with African countries around the rough diamond trade.

Mr. Bin Sulayem held talks with Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, Mbayo Esther Mbulakubuza, Minister for the Presidency (Office of the President), and Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development. The purpose of Mr. Bin Sulayem’s visit to Uganda was to bring the country into discussions around the initiative should any large-scale diamond mining take place. Topics related to compliance protocols and border security, to ensure the processes were in place to prevent any illicit diamond trading activity across Uganda and to safeguard the interests of the country’s population, were also taken up.

Uganda is not yet a member of KP. In the meetings held with the KP Chair it has expressed interest in both KP membership, and in exploring a future in diamond mining beyond its existing mineral exports. UAE KP Chair, Ahmed Bin Sulayem, also extended an invitation to Uganda for the upcoming KP Plenary Meeting in Dubai, November 13-19, 2016.

According to World Bank data, 90% of mining in Uganda is done by artisanal, low-scale miners providing livelihoods for more than 200,000 individuals in a country where 19% of the total population struggles with poverty. While it does not mine rough diamonds on a large-scale at this time, there have been calls from the East Africa nation inviting international organisations to invest in this space.

“At its core, the Kimberley Process was founded to stem the flow of conflict diamonds, and it is most effective when it is a collaborative process,” said Bin Sulayem. “This is what we have sought to do with our Africa Initiative, as while we have made significant progress since the inception of the KP, it is vital that we continually look to bring more countries into the fold. This will ensure that any potential diamond mining activity takes place responsibly and that it benefits the local community in the source country in a sustainable fashion. We, along with the KP working committee, look forward to building on the progress of our discussions in Uganda and further enhancing our dialogue in the months to come.”

M r. Bin Sulayem also took the opportunity to discuss gold trade, and ways to combat what has become an unacceptable level of ‘unofficial’ gold trading.

“Hand carried gold is not only costing governments’ billions of dollars a year in lost revenues, but it is severely impacting the lives of thousands of miners and supply chain operators through questionable employment, exploitation and transportation practices. We will be engaging actively with IATA and ICAO over the coming period and expect them to put regulations in place that can put a halt to hand-carriage of gold,” said Bin Sulayem in Uganda.

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