Uganda is “strategic” to France companies — Veolia Water CEO

An Aquaforce 15000 unit, which is used to treat water in emergency situations, recently deployed in Kyangwali camp employee. The mobile water treatment unit was installed by Veolia Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Veolia Water Technologies, and Médecins Sans Frontières. Credit: Veolia Foundation

France is one of the few European countries with several large companies operating in Uganda, from Total and Total E&P, Lafarge, KLM, Ballore LogisticsSogea Satom, Renault, Green Bio Energy Ltd to Veolia.

But this is not really as a result of Uganda’s conducive business climate.

It’s for “strategic reasons,” according to Patrick Couzinet, chief executive of Veolia Water Technologies, a French transnational company with activities in mainly water management, waste management, transport and energy services.

Mr Couzinet told this website at the company’s headquarters in Paris that Uganda is “a major link” between North East Africa and Southern Africa, and yet still a strategic player in Eastern Africa.

“We can never pack our bags to fully leave,” Mr Couzinet said. “The future is there.”

Mr Couzinet cited Uganda’s geopolitical position in the River Nile basin—between both the upstream and downstream countries. The River Nile’s catchment area spreads through 10 countries—Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, South Sudan and Sudan.

And with Uganda prepping to start commercial oil production, Total E&P has lured several other oil and gas service providers, whose number on the ground is expected to grow as production activities increase.

Veolia currently has one major project in Uganda; it is constructing a wastewater treatment plant in Bugolobi funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and German development bank KfW at a cost of $76m. However, Mr Couzinet said they are looking for more business in the country.

Elsewhere, the company has operations in Morocco, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Algeria and neighbouring Kenya.