H.E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni paid a two-day Working State Visit to France from 18-19 September 2016, accompanied by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni.
H.E. the President and his delegation was received at Le Bourget Airport by Hon. Oryem Henry Okello, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/International Affairs, H.E. Amb. Nimisha Madhvani Uganda's Ambassador to France, Spain, Portugal and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, OECD and BIE, and Her Excellency Sophie Makame, France's Ambassador to Uganda. All African Ambassadors to France also received His Excellency the President. The President also addressed the Africa Diplomatic Corp and had a brief interaction with them.President Museveni asked the African Ambassadors to market Africa as the best Investment destination for Europeans. The President underscored that Africa purchasing power was on the increase and estimated it to be now at US$8 trillion, with a growing population of 1.2 Billion, which presents a huge market for Investors.
The President also informed the African Ambassadors that East Africa was discussing a Policy that would see the Region buying some products produced in the Region only and this would include cars. That it would require one to produce whole or assemble the cars from within the region if only to continue selling in the EAC market. He observed that Ethiopia was already implementing this similar policy.
MEETING WITH MOVEMENT OF THE ENTREPRENEURS OF FRANCE (MEDEF)
On Monday 19 September 2016 at 8.30 am H.E. the President addressed the Official Business Umbrella of France called MEDEF International (Movement of the Entrepreneurs of France) which has over 880,000 Firms.
This MEDEF International among other things;
Promotes the know-how and supports trade and investments by French Companies in the world.
Relates International French Companies with the world ^public and private decision makers to enlarge or find new sustainable and long term partnerships between France and Foreign Companies.
It eases direct and constructive dialogue at the highest level, with Heads of State and government and fosters improvements in the governance and business opportunities.
This meeting therefore provided the needed and awaited opportunity for discussions with the representatives and Chief Executives of the various important French Companies on the business opportunities and environment in Uganda.
It was a good meeting that seemed to go a long way in promoting Uganda as an attractive investment destination for French Companies.
Addressing the Executives and representatives of the Companies under MEDEF, President Museveni underscored that today Africa has the needed purchasing power.
"Our demand is backed by ability to pay" he said, Investors in Uganda have a market of 40 million people, 160 million at EAC level and 700 million at COMESA.
The President also revealed that the country has negotiated with major economies like USA; China and the European Union (EU) for market access of Ugandan products on duty free and quota free basis creating ready and predictable market needed by Investors.
That Uganda has also negotiated third party market access with the EU, US and China and is talking to Japan and India in that direction.
The President also spoke about the country's infrastructure saying, "Uganda is blessed with natural resources. We have raw materials for agriculture, livestock, forests and minerals. On tourism, Uganda lies right on the Equator and yet at a high altitude. This makes our climate very friendly. He therefore invited the French to come to Uganda as Tourists to enjoy this unique weather and Ugandan hospitality.
The President also assured the Investors that Uganda is stable and healthy for business. In his words "Finally is Stability, we have handled governance issues and Uganda now has durable stability. Investors should know this.
The President had an open discussion with the representatives of the various French Companies who put to him specific questions and inquiries on how best they can be assisted to invest in Uganda.
H.E the President in his candid response invited these companies to come to Uganda and seal the business deals. Among the Companies were AERA Group which stated they could help Uganda prepare and benefit or access the Finances for Climate/ Carbon, more so now that Uganda has ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement in New York in April 2016. Other wanted to help in modernizing Kampala City, others already working in the Water Sector, etc.
The Mission in conjunction with State House is to keep strict follow up to ensure that H.E. President Museveni's visit result in improved Uganda and France partnerships economically and politically and to work towards ensuring that the French Companies move to Uganda.
MEETING WITH FRANCE TOTAL
The meeting started at 10.00 am and was attended by H.E. President Museveni accompanied by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni.
On the side of Total, it was led by their Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and Chairman of Total, Mr. Patrick Pouyanne, President Marketing and Services and member of the Executive Board, Mr. Momar NGUER, the Vice President of Total and the Leader of Total and Marketing Manager Uganda.
President Museveni thanked the President of Total and told him that he had provided all Total wanted including the Production Licence. The President therefore sought to know from them the way forward.
The President of Total assured President Museveni that by the year 2020 Oil should be flowing. Total was optimistic about their prospects of expanding their operations in Uganda and East Africa as a whole. They informed the President that Total had bought all GAPCO Petrol Stations (32 stations) in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya to try to harmonize and create a uniformity of Total in the region.
The Southern Route (Oil Pipelines) through Tanzania
The President and Total Chief discussed issues affecting the Southern pipeline and the two sides agreed to address any outstanding issues affecting the implementation. Total France expects to spend around 8 million Euros towards the project.
Total also discussed candidly on the new proposal acquisitions in Lake Albert. They also informed on the proposed training programmes where 800 students and communities will be trained too as well as their commitment to Solar initiatives to provide not only solar lights but also solar powered irrigation pumps.
MEETING WITH CAMPUS FRANCE
The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs. Janet Kataaha Museveni meet officials of Campus France, the Public Agency Overseen by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Higher Education responsible for coordination services for International Students in France. The two sides agreed to review their discussions so that by next year 2017 in September the programme starts. This would ensure that Ugandan students studying in France would pay less money compared to what they are paying now. Further the French companies such as Total and others would make a contribution hence reducing the burden.
MEETING WITH AIRBUS
The President and First Lady also met Airbus Officials and discussed briefly how Airbus can start an Airline in Uganda with the start of the airplanes to fly the European routes. The President invited Airbus Officials to come to Uganda for meetings with Ministry of Works and himself and finalize the details
BILATERAL MEETING UGANDA/FRANCE
On 19 September 2016 at 12.00 noon H.E. resident Museveni held a meeting with his French counterpart, H.E. Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace in Paris, the French Capital.
President Museveni who was accompanied by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni, Hon. Oryem Henry Okello, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/International Affairs, Amb. Nimisha Madhvani, first inspected the Guard of Honor before he held bilateral talks with his Host.
President Holland thanked the Government of Uganda for supporting the various French investors in Uganda saying they had reported to him about Uganda's hospitality and courtesy.
President Hollande said he would increase France's support to Uganda through various projects under the Agency for French Development (AFD). He cited infrastructure projects like the Jinja-Kampala Express Highway and any other projects that the Government of Uganda will propose.
President Hollande commended Uganda for its outstanding role in helping restore order to Somalia and the region generally. Uganda is the key contributor of troops to the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which have been critical in flushing out Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu.
President Hollande promised continued military cooperation and support with Uganda. The French Army has been key in helping the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) create an Alpine Brigade with securing the country's mountains.
President Museveni, on his part thanked President Hollande for inviting him to Paris. On behalf of Uganda, he condoled with the French people over the recent terrorist attacks in France in which a number of people were killed.
President Museveni said that it was a product of ideological disorientation, emphasising that besides fighting terrorists, the question of pseudo-ideology must be addressed. He thanked his counterpart for his country's continued military cooperation and support, noting the Alpine Brigade will also be a buffer to security on water bodies.
President Museveni said Uganda would continue supporting French investors, pointing out that there were opportunities in the provision of solar energy and supporting water projects on River Kagera.
President Museveni extended an invitation to President Hollande to visit Uganda, which the French Leader gladly accepted. This would make President Hollande the first French President to visit Uganda.
Overall the visit was a great success and it opened the door for long and strengthened bilateral cooperation between Uganda and France as noted above.
The above visit also must be seen as a major catalyst to help to attract the French Investors in the various sectors to Uganda.
As a Mission, it is pertinent that Kampala provides enough funding for Commercial Diplomacy so that the Mission reaches out to all companies/industries.
The Mission and Kampala must follow up on this.
The Mission should also hold additional Trade Investment Conference in Paris either this year 2016 or in the Q4 of the FY 2016/2017 as requested by the MEDEF when they met with President Museveni.