The Ministry for East African Community (EAC) affairs has pledged to help local business community exploit regional water resources.
In an interview with The New Times, the Minister of East African Affairs, Monique Mukaruliza, observed that it was the responsibility of the private sector to make good use of the opportunities that the region presents.
She called on Rwandan businesses to be aggressive if they are to benefit from the regional integration process.
“There’s a lot we can get from these waters like fish, energy, transport; we are committed to ensuring that local businesses receive all the support they need to do exactly that; they can work through public private partnerships”.
The minister pointed out that Rwanda joined the EAC with an aim of tapping into the region’s economic benefits, adding that Rwandans should feel free to invest anywhere within the community.
Both officials and experts agree that only Tanzanians, Kenyans and Ugandans are currently enjoying the benefits of the region’s water resources.
Speaking at a recent regional meeting in Kigali, Gerson Fumbuka, a top official from Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), challenged the local business community to utilize regional waters bodies such as lakes Victoria and Tanganyika.
An EAC development strategy was adopted recently to help guide the exploitation of water resources in the region.
According to officials, the strategy will help consolidate the gains of the Customs Union, implement the Common Market, negotiate and implement a Monetary Union protocol, and strengthen the foundation for a fast-tracked Political Federation.
“The idea is to make it possible for our people to freely exploit the region’s natural resources wherever they are, in all partner states,” added Mukaruliza.
Faustin Mbundu, the chairman of the Private Sector Federation (PSF), said they have embarked on an awareness campaign to encourage local businesses to invest in the fishing industry beyond the national borders.
“The reason why our business community has not yet utilized the regional waters is because the fishing industry in the country has not yet been developed, but we shall continue supporting them to exploit regional waters bodies,” he said.
Samuel Kamanzi a local businessman, welcomed the move and cited the main problem as lack of adequate information on how they can best penetrate regional business.
“I didn’t know that, as a Rwandan, I can freely do business on Lake Victoria or Tanganyika; what we need is to get more adequate information on regional markets”.