Most illegal gold smuggled through Entebbe Airport

President Museveni launch a regional gold refinery in Uganda
President Museveni has launched a regional gold refinery in Uganda in a bid to reduce revenue lost due to export of raw gold. Courtesy Photo.

Entebbe International Airport is a major conduit for smuggling illicit gold from across Sub-Saharan Africa to the Middle East and Asia. That’s according to the management of the newly commissioned African Gold Refinery (AGR) in Entebbe.

The African Gold Refinery is a subsidiary of Tony Goetz NV, a leading precious mineral refining company based in Antwerp, Belgium. The company also has a refinery in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, which receives lots of gold from Africa.

Speaking to the media, the Vice President of African Gold Refinery, Alphonse Katerere said that such a background partly informed African Gold Refinery’s mission to set up the refinery in Uganda in order to sanitize the gold sector in particular and the minerals industry in general.

The African Gold Refinery Chief Executive, Alain Goetz, said the source of the gold for the refinery is regional, adding that his company has undergone rigorous certification process by the United Nations in order to authenticate the sources of gold it refines.

Earlier, Goetz told the gathering that despite having the refinery in Entebbe there is still a lot of smuggling via Uganda’s only international airport. Goetz said if not curtailed smuggling of gold and other minerals could pose a string of challenges including financing of terrorism.

Entebbe airport is also infamous for the smuggling of a string of items including animal parts, precious minerals and drugs. The Chairman of African Gold Refinery Richard Kaijuka said that if regulated, gold could become the leading export for Uganda.

African Gold Refinery, located near the airport, produces a ton of gold every month. Its target is to attract as much gold as possible from the region. According to Goetz, the third phase of the African Gold Refinery plant will involve the production of golden coins and jewelry, adding that the facility will transform the precious minerals sector in the country.

When contacted, the Public Affairs Manager of Civil Aviation Authority, Vianney Luggya, denied that Entebbe International is so porous to the extent that it is used to spirit away precious items including gold.

– Uganda Radio Network