EAC gets Shs88b to revive maritime services

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) board has approved a loan of $25m (about Shs88b) for Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania through the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) for development of several infrastructures on Lake Victoria to operate functional maritime services.

LVB is an organ of the East African Community (EAC) charged with coordinating the various interventions in the Victoria Basin.

Mr Telly Muramira, the deputy executive secretary of the LVBC on Tuesday at the meeting of regional policy steering committee for various programmes, revealed that the four-year AfDB arrangement includes establishing infrastructures and [wireless] communication networks at Entebbe, Kisumu (Kenya) and Mwanza (Tanzania).

“It is a project that has been in plans for a while, the AfDB has already approved the money. We are now finalising the startups and should be starting around next month (April) or early May.”

The two-day meeting was called to evaluate various projects and programmes funded by donors that have been running for the past six months and give update on those to be run in the next six months.

In Uganda, Mr Muramira said, they are coordinating with the Works and Transport ministry to work out an implementation plan that encompasses management too.

The infrastructures to be constructed include maritime rescue communication centres in the three zones and networks for wireless communication on the lake to allow making and receiving of calls.

The centre/s will be equipped with staff charged with receiving and responding to distress calls, locating people (mostly fishermen) trapped anywhere on the lake and to coordinate rescue missions.

For the wireless network covering the lake, a working document prepared by AfDB, indicates that the project includes a component of extending range of the current GSM system to its technical maximum. GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), is the network standard for second-generation (2G) digital cellular networks used to operate mobile phones.

“The principal objective of this project is to contribute to broad-based poverty alleviation and improvement of livelihoods of people through increased investment in maritime transport and fishing on Lake Victoria,” according to the AfDB.

The head of the Lake Victoria Environment Management Programme in Uganda, Mr Sowedi Sewagudde, revealed several other upcoming projects which include, among others, the Integrated Water Resources Management funded by the German development Bank Kfw that will see the construction of a waste water treatment plant to process sewerage from the Nakivubo drainage channel before it is discharged into Lake Victoria. This,he said, will help to curb pollution levels.

The issues at hand
Unutilised potential. The lake is Africa’s largest by surface area, and also the world’s largest tropical water body yet the three countries have ignored the tremendous opportunity at hand among others inland water transport, especially for land-locked Uganda.

The infrastructure. The infrastructures to be constructed include Maritime Rescue Communication Centres in the three zones and networks for wireless communication on the lake to allow making and receiving calls.

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