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24.11.2011 Africa

EAC to unearth Lake Tanganyika potential, says Secretary General

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, November 24, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The East African Community is working on harnessing the potential of Lake Tanganyika by attracting investments to the lake basin, the EAC Secretary General Ambassador Richard Sezibera said today.

While briefing journalists attending the EAC-GIZ Advanced Media Training on Reporting on Regional Integration, which is currently on in Bujumbura, the Secretary General said attracting investment and increasing awareness of the importance of the Lake Tanganyika basin would be top on the agenda at the Lake Tanganyika Development Conference which opens next Monday in the Burundian capital.

Amb. Sezibera said that in addition to raising awareness about one of the region's most important shared trans-boundary natural resources, EAC would also use the 28-29 November conference to woo investors to the basin, which presents opportunities in transport and communication infrastructure; tourism; agri-business and fisheries; trade and industry; and investment-led research among others.

“We want people to be fully aware of the potentials available in the lake, which is shared by four countries; Tanzania, Burundi, DRC and Zambia. There are lots of potentials that need to be tapped in the lake through investment as it is in other lakes in the region,” he told journalists drawn from the five EAC Partner States.

The Secretary General challenged media in the region to play an active role in ensuring East Africans are involved in the integration project by providing a medium for citizens to interface with their leaders to discuss pertinent EAC issues and in the process address fears and reservations towards integration, some of which Amb. Sezibera said result from a lack of information.

“When the people are aware of the Community, see it and feel its presence, they would appreciate more and acknowledge its benefits and prospects,” the Secretary General said.

Amb. Sezibera, who also addressed himself to various EAC-related subjects ranging from trade to the economy and regional security, emphasized the need for the Partner States to speed up work towards the East African Monetary Union, which he said would put the region on a firmer economic footing.

“Currency fluctuations [in the region] are a reflection of underlying economic fundamentals. A monetary union with the accompanying economic and financial integration would make our region more competitive,” he said. “But that's not enough,” he added, noting that the region needed to boost industrial growth, food production and energy generation, among others.

He also affirmed that the region was committed to tackling Non Tariff Barriers, which slow down intra-regional trade and declared that these had now been reduced by at least half from 59 a few years ago. The Secretary General reiterated the bloc's commitment to conclude the Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union and explained that any delays were because the EAC negotiators “wanted to get the right EPA for East Africa”.

On peace and security, Amb. Sezibera reaffirmed EAC's support for ongoing initiatives to pacify Somalia, and confirmed that the country's security situation would feature on the agenda of the EAC Heads of State Summit meeting due 30 November in Bujumbura.

“EAC is committed to finding a long term solution to Somalia so that its people can find the peace and stability they deserve,” the Secretary General stated.

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