Speech of German Ambassador Dr. Albrecht Conze on the occasion of the celebration of the German Day of Unity on 3rd October 2018
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda, Hon. Sam Kutesa,
Mrs. Edith Kutesa,
Ministers, Members of Parliament,
Excellencies my fellow Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Heads of International Organizations,
My dear compatriots,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me extend to you a very warm welcome to the German Residence as we are celebrating 28 years of German unity tonight. My wife and I, and all members of this embassy, feel honoured by the presence of so many good friends and distinguished guests to celebrate our National Day together with the German community in Uganda.
The Day of German Unity – why are we celebrating Unity only, and nothing else? For example liberty, equality and fraternity, like the French; or life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness like the Americans? Why do Germans focus on unity?
The short answer is: because for most of our history we haven’t had it. Not in medieval times, not after liberation from Napoleon, and again, not during the forty years of the Cold War. Nevertheless, our philosophers, our poets, and our people have been dreaming of unity for generations. When unity was lost again after 1945, we were missing it very much, on both sides of the iron curtain.
So it came as a gift of history that we were able to re-establish our unity as one nation after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Eleven months after that dramatic night we were unified, without a single shot being fired, and in agreement with all our neighbours.
That happened on the 3rd of October 1990. I was in my thirties then. For my generation, unity has changed everything. We had either had a West German or an East German upbringing, but the better part of our lives was then spent in a united country. What belonged together was growing together again. And after some time we could afford to be less preoccupied by ourselves, and spend more energy looking beyond our borders.
Hence, as a reunited nation we started to look even closer at Africa than before. In the 1990ies Western attitudes about the continent were mostly paternalistic. We spoke of development aid, and our question at the time was: What can we do for Africa to make Africa move forward?
Today we know that this was the wrong question to ask. Twenty years have passed since the Millennium Development Goals were conceived without much African participation. It took us Germans - and most others in the Northern hemisphere - quite a while to understand that the belief in global social engineering was leading nowhere. It only served our good conscience, it served African governments of various qualities, but it failed to serve the people in Africa.
I can only hope that we have all learned our lesson. Today it must be Africa first, and Europe second: this continent defines its priorities for leaving behind poverty. The partners from Europe must limit themselves to accompanying you, responding to your questions, and eventually supporting you where it makes sense.
In this respect I am not at all pessimistic for Uganda. Your urban middle class and your well educated youth know where they want to go. They have the potential to move mountains. But far too often they are lacking the space for actually doing it. Ladies and gentlemen, I strongly believe that the liberation struggle of 2018 is about setting free all the energy of the majority. And who constitutes this majority? No one else but Ugandans below the age of 30.
Setting free their energy will not work without proposing them jobs. This requires investment. After one year in Uganda I have understood that bringing more German investment to this country must be my top priority. When I presented credentials to President Museveni, he told me just that.
Two major German investors are among us tonight. They represent medium-sized enterprises, the backbone of the German economy. They are shining examples for Made in Germany, the motto of our party tonight. Gauff Engineers, active in Uganda for more than 30 years, are building the cargo port at Bukasa, as part of the integrated East African Transport Network. And Veridos, one of the very few world champions of sophisticated identity solutions for governments and their citizens, is about to sign a contract with the Ugandan Government for setting up a facility to produce bank notes, passports and other sovereign material. You will read about it in the papers later this week. Gauff and Veridos have kindly agreed to co-sponsor our Day of German Unity - thank you very much, Dr. Salzer and Dr. Sterzinger, for your great support.
This is the moment to also thank my fellow countrymen for all the constructive and useful work they are doing with their Ugandan counterparts. GIZ and KFW are the well-established official partners of a long list of Ugandan government agencies, and very much engaged in water, renewable energy, energy distribution, rural development and vocational training. Their work is complemented by numerous German NGOs, churches, young volunteers and courageous men and women who have chosen Uganda for adding their contribution to Africa’s development.
My special appreciation goes to all those who are engaged in the field of support for the numerous refugees who have come to find temporary shelter in secure Uganda. To all of them I want to say “Thank you, you are doing great things, but please never forget to try to make yourself superfluous tomorrow, in five years or in ten, as Ugandans are well on their way to looking after themselves with less and less foreign support.”
My last word is to the Government of Uganda: please help me, and help the Germans in Uganda to spread all the good news about that precious pearl you are holding in your hands, the Pearl of Africa. Investment does not come by itself. Capital investment, as goes a German saying, is a very shy antelope that would only dare to graze where it feels safe. Investors need good news, and they hate nasty headlines. They need attractive conditions, pro-active partners and clear time lines. They are looking for political stability combined with transparent governance and the Rule of Law. And investors, at least when they come from Germany or like-minded countries, are not prepared to do business without internationally accepted standards of compliance being observed.
In as much as you, my dear Ugandan partners, work on improving things at the receiving end, my chances back home will grow to bring more German companies to Uganda. It is as easy as that. May I propose that we consider this a deal?
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, let me ask our guest of honour, Hon. Sam Kutesa, to join me for a toast to the good health of the Presidents of Uganda and Germany, their Excellencies Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and to the happiness and good fortune of the people of Germany and Uganda.