By Joan Akello
Sophie Makame, the new French Ambassador to Uganda arrived three months ago but it was only yesterday that she held a press conference to unveil the French government’s plans for Uganda.
“My priorities will be in security, sustaining the trend of French investments, gender and environment which will translate our project policy,” Makame said, “These three will drive our activity in Uganda.”
Paris will host the Elysee Summit in Peace and Security in Africa on Dec. 5 to 6th which Makame says is timely for Uganda that is faced with security concerns. President Yoweri Museveni is expected to attend the summit.
She says the French government is committed to help Uganda just like other African countries to handle security threats. Through a bilateral military cooperation with the country, France is training soldiers of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to be deployed in Somalia and also teaching police officers French.
On the economic front, there are about 30 French companies investing into the local economy – amounting 1 billion USD in the past three years. She says the French investors have selected Uganda, because they place their trust in this country and wish to be actively engaged in the new stage of its development
The volume of trade from Uganda to France mainly agricultural products in 2012 was worth 16million Euros while that of France to Uganda stood at 68 million Euros in the same year.
Makame also urges the government and farmers to develop the agricultural sector because most exports (raw materials) are susceptible to price fluctuation on the world market.
Her first public appearance was on Nov. 28 to mark this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau (New Wine) a festival that originates from Burgundy, in South-eastern France where each year’s vintage is fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November.
Initially, the Beaujolais was used to merrily celebrate the end of the harvest. Paddleboats were transporting the just-made first wine, down the River Rhone to bars and restaurants in the city of Lyon, so that urbanites could take part in the new harvest tasting and celebrating.
But now, the air carriers have replaced the paddleboats, so that people can also have what Makame said, “Taste of France in Uganda”.
“Good wine gets better as time goes by: We are just beginning to see what flavours, our expanding bilateral relationship will turn into: from a fresh, young and slightly acid beverage to robust and generous nectar; I cannot wait for it,” Makame said.
She also added that the French Development Agency (AFD) will give Uganda development aid between 60 to 80 million Euros for the period 2013-2016. However, this bilateral relationship will be through projects not direct budget support.