The first ever Lake Victoria Basin Investment Forum begun yesterday in Mwanza, Tanzania with delegates emphasising the need to fight poverty in the region through investing in the Lake.
The four-day forum being held under the theme; “Realizing Economic Benefits in the EAC Common Market through the Lake Victoria Basin,” was opened by the Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, Hafsa Mossi.
It has brought together over 300 investors and potential investors from within and outside the region.
The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC) Juma Mwapachu said that if the region is to overcome the increasing unemployment challenge, there is need for social entrepreneurs, arguing that the Lake is a public good.
“The investments are really low compared to the immense potential of the lake. Activity on the lake used to be vibrant and this is what we want to see coming back,” he said.
The forum is revolving around five sectors which include; Transport and Communication, Tourism, Agribusiness and Fisheries, Trade and Industry, and Research and Development.
The Executive Secretary of the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) Tom Okurut emphasised that if fully utilized, the lake has the potential to create wealth for all the East African countries.
The basin, with a population of 38 million people, was designated as an important economic growth zone of the East African Community.
In his speech, Uganda’s Deputy Prime Minister Eriya Kategaya lashed out at development partners who only think of developing democracy in Africa and neglect crucial sectors like energy.
“You hear that 163 million euros has been put aside for monitoring elections, what will be monitored in a village without electricity?” Kategaya questioned.
The forum is organized by the EAC Secretariat, Lake Victoria Basin Commission, host nation Tanzania, national investment and tourism promotion agencies of the partner states, and the East African Business Council.