The Observer (Kampala)

27 November 2012

Uganda: French Laud Uganda's Business Environment

The French ambassador to Uganda, Aline Kuster-Ménager, has said Uganda's business environment has immensely improved, which offers great investment opportunities to foreigners. Kuster-Ménager that opportunities for investment in the area of oil and gas, agriculture, telecoms, among others, abound and given the peace and stability the country enjoys, Uganda is a good investment destination.

"There are a lot of opportunities here; your [Uganda's] oil needs to be developed, and there is growing market for most products especially in the East African community. The country is also strategically located at the centre of East Africa," she said.

She was speaking to journalists at the Beaujolais Nouveau day last week, where the French celebrate the first popular wine, Beaujolais. The French business community in Uganda use it as a day to come together to celebrate and reflect on the challenges and opportunities for their businesses in the country.

"Uganda is definitely not our biggest market for our wine, but we used this day as the business community in the country to have good time together," she said.

Many French companies have flocked the country including Orange Uganda, Total, Hima Cement owned by Lafarge company, among others.

France's interest in Uganda has been manifested in various visits that the French make to the country. In 2009, for instance, a delegation of French Business Confederation (MEDEF- International) came to Kampala to assess the country's business climate.

Kuster-Ménager says Uganda's oil sector provides immense opportunities to different companies. "Total, a French company, has already had an opportunity to partner with other companies in the oil sector, which is good," she said.

Benjamin Puissant, the country manager Brussels Airlines in Uganda and South Sudan, said that while Uganda's business environment is not the best, it's accommodative for most businesses.

"For instance, Entebbe airport is one of the most expensive [airports] in the region, but the way you are handled at the airport, you feel satisfied."

However, Kuster-Ménager says while the business environment has improved and investment opportunities increased, Uganda still needs to work on the infrastructure, especially energy and roads, to lower the costs of production.

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