Uganda emerges as Africa’s gold refinery hub

Bank of Uganda reported that the central African country exported a record volume of gold in May this year, following a four-month slump. The Bank reported that gold exports, for a long time Uganda’s chief foreign exchange earner, earned the country $126 million in May.

Country’s total exports, including coffee, fish, flowers oil re-exports, and gold, were worth $291 million in the month, up 28.7% from April’s $207 million.

Uganda exported a total of 2,470 kg of refined gold in May, up from 1,180 kg in April, and the highest level in three years, according to the report.

The last time a peak in Uganda’s gold exports occurred was in June 2017, when the country traded $120 million-worth of production, mainly from small-scale miners. Its gold is mainly exported to the Middle East with the United Arab Emirates being the main destination.

The spike in Uganda’s gold exports is attributed to the coronavirus pandemic as gold is being considered safe haven among investors, who had considered buying into the yellow metal as a safer option than holding currencies.

Consignments of gold had been insignificant for Uganda but they began to rise suddenly after a key refiner, Africa Gold Refinery, set up plant in 2016 near Entebbe airport. Three more gold refineries have recently followed, stimulating the country’s processing capacity and allowing Uganda to slowly emerge as a regional gold trading hub.

The four gold refineries source their metal from regional countries, including Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2019, Uganda shipped $1.25 billion worth of gold more than double its 2018 gold export values of $514.8 million, Uganda’s Central Bank reported.

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