The Ambassador's Opening Speech at the Information Evening about German Trade Fairs
Dear President of the Ugandan National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Olive Kigongo; dear Acting Director of the Ugandan Investment Authority, Lawrence Byensi; dear Executive Director of the DFCU Bank, William Sekabenge; dear representatives of Ugandan companies
Germany is world champion in trade. German products and German technology are at the edge of development and sought after all over the world. There are about 400.000 German companies trading with foreign countries. But: there are only thousand companies active in Africa. And when it comes to companies active in Uganda, we only have a few dozens. Yes, Germany is the biggest trading partner of Uganda in Europe, and Europe as a trading partner with Uganda is second only to COMESA. But our exchange is limited to barely 200 million Euros yearly, and direct investments are very few.
When my colleague Mr. Pfingsten - who is in charge of economic affairs - and I arrived in September 2014, we took stock of German companies active in Uganda, and we soon saw that there is an enormous potential for increase. But then we start from a very low level: Some engineering companies, some solar energy companies, some agricultural companies, some import-export companies, some lodge owners and tour operators. We were convinced that we had to increase this, and during our time of office we had no less than six trade companies coming to Uganda. This shows a growing interest of German companies for Uganda.
And we want to increase this interest. Already, Uganda is exporting commodities such as coffee, tea, cocoa, tobacco, fish and flowers to Germany. But Uganda has more to offer. Sometimes you hear Uganda is a poor country. But then, it is a country blessed by nature and blessed by a most friendly population. In Uganda, you have everything: big mountains and volcanoes, the Great Lakes, the mighty river Nile, jungle with gorillas and chimps, savannahs with the Big Five and all the other magnificent fauna, wetlands, drylands, you name it. This is very attractive for Tourism. And Germans just love to travel. But the destination Uganda must be made known to the Germans: they just don’t know Uganda.
And we also want to wake up interest of Ugandan companies for Germany and German products. I know that German products are appreciated in Uganda but people tend to think they are too expensive. This view needs to be corrected. Yes, German products are a bit more expensive than others but they are of higher quality, and they are of very long endurance. In Germany we say we are too poor to buy cheap. This means that in the end you save money if you buy a high class German product because you don’t have to replace it for a long time, and your costs for maintenance are much lower. Therefore, in cost terms it is worthwhile to buy German.
So Germans need to get to know better Ugandans, and Ugandans need to get to know better Germans. And there is a perfect way for that. Germany happens to be the world capital for trade fairs. Two thirds of international trade fairs are being held in Germany, and we have the biggest fairs in the world for industries, for agriculture, for electronics, for tourism and for many more subjects. Fairs work both ways: you can present your Ugandan products, and you can buy German products. Just two examples: Ugandan tourism companies can feature their marvelous country on the ITB which is happening this very week – your Minister of tourism is going there – and attract the interest of German tour operators. And Ugandan companies can for instance attend the fair for used machinery in Germany where you can buy used German machinery of high quality and with still a long life ahead at a low price; Mr. Pfingsten will tell you more about it.
The event tonight is meant to familiarize you with the participation at German trade fairs. We try to cover all aspects: information on the fairs, information on how to get there, information on financing, information on visa. I wish you a very informative session and – see you in Germany!