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Come invest in Lake Tanganyika Basin - President Nkurunziza / EAC Summit Chairperson urges investors to take advantage of basin's vast potential as 1st Lake Tanganyika Basin Development Conference opens

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, November 28, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The EAC Summit Chairperson and President of the Republic of Burundi HE Pierre Nkurunziza today opened the first-ever Lake Tanganyika Basin Development Conference in Bujumbura, Burundi by extending an invitation to investors to come and invest in the Lake Tanganyika Basin.

“I would like to make a pressing appeal to potential investors, those of EAC, COMESA, SADC, The United States of America, China, Japan, Europe, India and elsewhere to come and invest in the Lake Tanganyika Basin,” HE Nkurunziza said.

The EAC-organized conference themed Unlocking the Overflowing Trade and Investment Opportunities in the Basin, is taking place at the Hotel Source du Nil and Roca Golf Hotel from 28-29 November 2011.

The two-day event is meant to harness the potential for trade, investment and socio-economic development in the Basin, and the President was quick to assure investors that the region was ready for investment.

“They can count on us for guarantees and facilities for their investments,” the EAC Summit Chair declared in his keynote address. The Head of State went on enumerate the vast opportunities that exist in the tourism, transport, agriculture and mining sectors, among others.

“It (Lake Tanganyika Basin) is inhabited by a population of over twenty million. It has a huge potential in water, including Lake Tanganyika and its basin, that we could operate effectively and efficiently to produce electrical energy needed to ensure industrial development in the region,” President Nkurunziza affirmed.

“The Basin is also an area of high agricultural potential, producing palm oil, sugar, fruits and vegetables of high quality, to name but a few,” he added.

The Burundian President also noted that the creation and improvement of port infrastructure in the Basin to boost transport would open up the region and accelerate integration, especially as the Basin is shared by the three regional blocs of EAC, COMESA and SADC, which have already formed a Tripartite framework to foster cooperation.

Burundi's Minister for EAC Affairs Hon. Hafsa Mossi on her part described the Lake Tanganyika basin as well as that of Lake Victoria as potential food baskets for the EAC region and observed that on account of their trans-boundary nature, lakes Tanganyika and Victoria call for cooperation among their riparian countries in the rational utilization of their resources, including conservation and protection of their delicate ecosystems.

The Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Richard Sezibera similarly highlighted the lake's potential as an important tourism and transport hub of the EAC region, saying it could be useful for linking goods transported by rail from Dar es Salaam through Kigoma, the DRC through Kalemie, and from the SADC region through Mpulungu in Zambia.

“This capacity can not be overstates because the lake Tanganyika basin is rich in minerals, and has very fertile soils,” Amb. Sezibera asserted.

Among the subjects being discussed at the conference include the sustainable exploitation of the natural resource base within the Lake Tanganyika Basin; state of play and role of public private partnerships (PPP) in infrastructural development in the region; and the role of ports and inland waterways in regional integration.

The forum will also focus on revitalization of the rail network in the region; enhancing Information Communication Technologies for service economy; oil and gas exploration activities on Lake Tanganyika; as well as energy alternatives for productive use to improve income generation in Lake Tanganyika basin.

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EAC Heads of State HE Mwai Kibaki of Kenya; Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Jakaya Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania; Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; as well as HE Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo and HE Michael Sata of Zambia are scheduled to take part in an interactive Heads of State session of the Lake Tanganyika Basin Development Conference on Tuesday afternoon, to be moderated by Mr. Jeff Koinange. DR Congo and Zambia are the other countries that share Lake Tanganyika with Burundi and Tanzania.

The EAC Secretariat in collaboration with the Republic of Burundi as the host country and Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC) are organizing the conference with the support of the EAC Partner States, Lake Tanganyika Authority (LTA), Trade Mark East Africa, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and East African Business Council (EABC).

The Lake Tanganyika Basin Development Conference is being relayed live via the EAC website: www.eac.int.

Additional Information

Lake Tanganyika is Africa's longest lake and the world's second deepest lake. It is of critical socio-economic significance to more than 10 million inhabitants in the region and its basin straddles the EAC Partner States of Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, and their neighbors; Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

The lake and its basin is endowed with exceptionally large and highly diverse heritage of flora and fauna with more than 1,500 plants and animal species. The basin is internationally recognized as a global hotspot of biodiversity, and extremely valuable aquatic ecosystem containing almost 17% of the global available surface freshwater supply in the world and some of the largest freshwater fisheries in Africa.