Lake Victoria is bordered by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania
All countries sharing the waters of Lake Victoria have been asked to come up with a joint policy to manage the resource for economic development.
Speaking at the Marine Mineral Resources Workshop at Hotel African in Kampala, the head of trade and industry at the African Union Commission, Hussein Hassan said Lake Victoria is a big resource benefiting many countries and needs to be protected from any destruction.
Lake Victoria is bordered by Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. However, the lake is also the source of River Nile whose waters are also shared by South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt.
"The lake is the source of the Nile which benefits four other countries. I think the work of protecting this lake should not only be left to the host countries; even the four countries sharing the waters through River Nile need to give support to these countries to protect this source. It is the key water source to these other countries," he said.
"We need to come up national, regional and continental clear policies on how to sustainably protect the lake from destruction. We must build institutions with capacity and human resource to manage this resource," he added.
Hassan said this would help to fight pollution and other illegal activities around lake, thus improving people's livelihood and promoting development in the various states.
"Many of these other countries depend on River Nile for agriculture and energy. That is why they must support in the preserving it."
Hassan also noted that there is need for African leaders to focus on strategies that can help Africa unearth in a sustainable manner the strong potential of the continent's marine sources.
"It is time Africa identifies ways to strengthen marine mineral led social and economic linkages. We need to agree on common investment rules that help the continent reap the benefits of our marine mineral resources in a sustainable away," he noted.
Hassan said there is need for common rules on competition policy, regulatory systems, fiscal regimes that provide African countries with opportunities to maximize the benefits from marine mineral resources.
In 2012, the African Union adopted the 2050 African Integrated Maritime (AIM) strategy, aimed at providing abroad framework for the protection and sustainable exploitation of the Africa's Maritime Domain (AMD).
The AMD offers all African nations, vast growth opportunity and a network of sea-lanes of enormous importance for their security and prosperity.
However, Hassan noted that landlocked countries still find challenges in accessing sea lanes, contrary to the convention.
In his presentation on of the law of the Sea Regime; the Judge at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), James Kateka said Article 125 of the Convention provides for right of access to and from the sea and freedom to transit for land-locked states, but many remain disadvantaged.
The Article also provides for access to the common heritage of mankind of landlocked states.
"Landlocked states remain disadvantaged because of the requirement of concluding bilateral, sub regional or regional agreements in order to exercise freedom of transit. This is must be addressed," he noted.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa said there is need to address the issue of land-locked African countries like Uganda in accessing the sea-lanes.
He said the vast maritime zones under the continent's jurisdiction and their natural resources, can significantly contribute to the structural transformation of Africa.
A total of 38 of Africa's 54 countries are coastal states.