Relations between France and Uganda were long affected by Kampala’s foreign policy (including its interventions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), but have again become confident. Uganda has made increasingly frequent overtures towards France since late 2013, with President Museveni taking part in the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa and the Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs visiting Paris in May 2014. President Museveni very much appreciated his visit to Paris in September 2016, which opened up new possibilities for partnerships (in irrigation, transport, water, revitalization of the national airline, etc.).
French military cooperation in Uganda is undergoing major growth. In 2015, Kampala requested French expertise in training an alpine brigade, and a cooperation officer is now on the staff of the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF). New cooperation initiatives are being considered with a view to securing Lake Albert.
- Visit to Paris of Mr Sam Kutesa, Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006).
- Visit to Kampala of Mr de Raincourt, French Minister for Cooperation (2011).
- Visit to Paris of Mr Isaac Musumba, Ugandan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation (February 2010).
- Visit to Paris of President Yoweri Museveni for the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa (December 2013).
- Visit to Paris of Mr Sam Kutesa, Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs (May 2014).
- Visit to Paris of President Yoweri Museveni (September 2016).
The bilateral balance of trade is strongly in France’s favour, with the French trade surplus reaching €45 million in 2017 (its highest level since 2013). In 2017, France was Uganda’s 10th largest supplier (with a market share of 2%), mainly exporting pharmaceutical products (30% of French exports), telecommunications equipment (14% of French exports) and building and mining equipment. Food products make up 94% of France’s imports from Uganda (87% coffee).
There are now about 30 French companies operating in the country, across a wide range of sectors: hydrocarbons (Total Distribution, Total E&P, Friedlander-Ortec), telecommunications (Orange, Alcatel-Lucent, Camusat), transport, logistics and distribution (Air France/KLM, SDV Transami, AGS), industry (Hima Cement-Lafarge, Sogea-Satom, Veolia Water, Renault Trucks), and services (Bureau Veritas, CIS Catering, Newrest, Gras Savoye, IGN, Monnaie de Paris).
French direct investment stock in Uganda stood at €58.3 million in 2016, mainly in the manufacturing sector.
Nevertheless, French FDI should grow considerably from the second half of 2018 onwards, due to Total’s final decision to invest in oil reserves under Lake Albert. The oil pipeline will have a capacity of more than 200,000 barrels per day, generating estimated revenue of €2 billion per year for 25 years following the start of exploitation (this amounts to one third of the national budget).
The Agence Française du Développement (AFD) has been present in Uganda since 2009, and has committed almost €240 million to the country over the past three years, notably in the water, sanitation and energy sectors. It is currently positioning itself to widen the scope of its interventions to include “sustainable cities”, by supporting Kampala’s low-carbon strategy.
Updated: 8 August 2018