East Africa: Lake Victoria 'Can Earn EA $800m Yearly'

Lake Victoria

Arusha — Lake Victoria has the potential to generate over $800 million annually to the economies of the East African states.

This emerged at the weekend as the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) passed a key bill on the protection of the vast water body.

"The lake has the potential to contribute over $800 million to the economy of the region," said Fatuma Ndangiza, an MP from Rwanda.

The Lake Victoria Basin Commission Bill, 2019 is intended to give more autonomy to the commission in discharging its duties.

If assented to, the bill will give powers to the Kisumu-based institution of the East African Community (EAC) to mobilize funds directly from donors for project execution.

"The bill will empower the commission to mobilize resources through direct mobilization of funds and entry into contracts," she said.

The 69,000km square lake, shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, recently reported an increase in commercially viable fish stocks.

Debating the bill, Mary Mugyenyi (Uganda) echoed the economic potential of the lake which, according to her, has not been fully exploited.

She said the socioeconomic woes facing the communities living on the shores could be addressed by exploiting the opportunities.

Abdulkadir Aden (Kenya) said with the blue economy top on the development agenda in the EAC, affairs of the commission should be handled more effectively.

"Exploitation of the existing opportunities and harnessing of the fisheries can enhance livelihoods," he told the just-ended virtual sitting of the House.

The passage of the bill follows a long period of wait since June 2007 when the EAC Council of Ministers introduced it for the First Reading.

When it came for the Second Reading in February 2011, the Council moved a motion to withdraw it to allow for more consultations.

Its passage means LVBC would have powers to coordinate stakeholder participation in natural resources development and harmonization of policies,laws and regulations.

Lake Victoria fisheries industry is valued at $ 250 million, contributing an estimated four per cent of the regional gross domestic product (GDP).

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