Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Following a series of high-level meetings with President Yoweri Museveni and local business executives, Momar Nguer who recently led a business delegation of top French executives to Uganda declared the mission a success.
The 25-member delegation recently traveled to Kampala under their MEDEF umbrella (Mouvement des Enterprises de France), a French business association which brings together close to 170,000 French companies to explore opportunities in road and internet backbone infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, telecoms and credit finance, among others.
Nguer who is the chairman of MEDEF’s Eastern Africa Business Council and also sits on French oil major, Total’s executive committee, told local journalists in a debriefing session at the French ambassador’s residence in Kampala on Nov.26 that French companies are “eager to build long-term partnerships with their Ugandan counterparts.”
“We know that French companies will never know better the local environment than our Ugandan counterparts,” Nguer said, “We are humble enough to know that and we are humble enough to want to build upon the knowledge that our Ugandan counterparts may have.”
Ambassador @JaAniambossou and @MEDEF_I delegation led by @Total Momar Nguer were received by H.E President @KagutaMuseveni to confirm the commitment of France and French companies to build long-term partnerships with Uganda in the spirit of respect, equality & reciprocity. 🇫🇷🇺🇬 pic.twitter.com/Gf5KeTgyM1
— France in Uganda (@FrenchEmbassyUg) November 28, 2019
Among the French business leaders who traveled to Kampala were those from Airbus Helicopters, a helicopter manufacturing firm, Thalès, an aeronautic, space, defence and security firm, Société Générale, a banking and financial services giant, Ponticelli Frères, a construction and maintenance firm that has interest in the oil and gas sector, Sogea Satom, a construction and public works firm and Bolloré Transport & Logistics, a logistics company which is already well-established in Uganda.
Others included; Suez International which has interest in water and waste management, Ragni SAS (public lighting and solar street lighting), Vinci Concessions (construction and maintenance for infrastructure and public network projects), Omexom Major Projects (electricity production and transmission), Laboratoires Servier (pharmaceuticals), Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (banking and financial services) and Meridiam (investment and asset management).
Over the course of two days, the business executives met and exchanged ideas with top government officials in the ministries of trade and industry, tourism, energy and minerals, agriculture and foreign affairs. They also met with executives from the Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Investment Authority and the National Planning Authority.
Several French companies already have long established businesses in the country including French oil major, Total, which is leading the country’s oil commercialization project. According to information from the French Embassy in Uganda, there are close to 35 French companies doing business in various sectors including oil and gas, infrastructure development, travel, insurance with a combined investment value of over US$ 1bn. These employ about 18,000 people.
Noting the ever-growing diplomatic and business relations between France and Uganda, Nguer said the French companies want to have a strong base in Uganda because of the friendly business climate that exists.
“The business relations between Uganda and France are very good yet neither France nor Uganda is happy with the volume of business we are doing together,” Nguer said, “We can do much more in terms of French business and we can do much more in terms of exporting Ugandan goods to France.”
Evelyn Anite, the Minister of State for finance in charge of investment and privatization encouraged the French companies to seize the opportunity and invest in Uganda. She said the French companies would find it profitable to invest in Uganda thanks to the country’s security, employable cheap labour and free land and the ease with which it is for investors to repatriate their profit.
“You will be able to make a lot of profit within a short time but also be able to repatriate it,” Anite said.
Talking more broadly about the French government’s policy change towards Africa, Jules Armand Aniambossou, the French Ambassador to Uganda, said trade between France and most of the African continent is not sufficient and this is something the French government intends to rectify.
“We could do better by working with all the African continent to transform the resources of the continent to create wealth and share it with the Africans,” he said, “This is what France wants to do in Africa and this is the spirit with which the MEDEF delegation has come to Uganda.”
Sam Kuteesa, the Minister for Foreign Affairs who was the Chief Guest at the cocktail organized for the MEDEF delegation thanked them for the “enthusiasm” they have shown in investing in Uganda. He said the delegation’s visit demonstrates the confidence of the French private sector in the French-Ugandan partnership.
Going forward, Nguer said he will soon meet with the Ugandan ambassador to France to follow-up on the promises the Ugandan government officials made. Thereafter, he said, they will meet every three-six months.
“Ultimately, French companies are interested in building long-term partnerships with Ugandans,” Nguer said.