Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake and the world’s second largest with an area of 69,000km2 spanning Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. It is also a key resource for the people of East Africa. It has the largest freshwater fisheries producing 700,000 to 800,000 tonnes of fish annually, worth US$350 – 400 million at the landings and US$250 million in export. Additionally there is an important untapped potential to expand both the tourism and transportation industries across the lake. Approximately 30 million people live along its shores and the lake currently provides employment for three to four million people.

Unfortunately, it is one of the most dangerous waterways in the world. Each year 4,000 – 5,000 people lose their lives on the lake due to drowning, pirate attacks, and accidents. Most of the victims are fishermen who leave behind an average of 8 dependents and hence the hazard affects over 30,000 people’s wellbeing annually.

Despite the great economic potential, Lake Victoria lacks the communication, and search and rescue infrastructure necessary for the protection of those who depend on the Lake and the waterway for their livelihood.

Previous Efforts

Lake Victoria maritime communications issues were initially addressed by a study undertaken in 2003 on “Development of Comprehensive Communications Strategy for Lake Victoria Basin”. The study recommended a Very High Frequency (VHF) radio network as a follow-up to an earlier initiative sponsored by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 1997.

In view of the rapid advances in technology and infrastructure developments around Lake Victoria, it became clear that VHF would not be the most cost effective solution for maritime communications. New initiatives were, therefore, taken including the Study on the Technical Solution for Maritime Communications for Lake Victoria, which was concluded in 2006. This study recommended establishment of a communication system, a rescue coordination centre and; and Search and Rescue institutions.

EAC Council’s Decisions and Way Forward

Subsequent to the above recommendations, the EAC Council in October 2007 approved the following key activities:

Implementation of a project on the establishment of a telecommunications network adapted to meet maritime requirements for safety on Lake Victoria;

Establishment of one Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) for all the three Partner States;

In implementing the EAC decisions, LVBC is commissioning this consultancy to assist in bringing the project to a bankable stage.


The consultancy will have three key components namely: Lake Victoria Communications Network; Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre; and Search and Rescue (SAR) institutions.

 Lake Victoria Maritime Communications Network

Review previous studies and define the inter-relation between the commercial and safety components (non-commercial) of the Lake Victoria Maritime Communications Network;

Review the existing regulatory and environmental aspects that need to be addressed; clearly indicating measures to be taken for environmental considerations for wireless networks.

Define a Private Public Partnership (PPP) implementation approach;

Recommend optimal institutional and governance structures for the implementation, operation, and maintenance of Lake Victoria Maritime Rescue Information Network;

Identify promoters and various interested stakeholders.

Maritime Rescue Coordination Center

Create a plan for the establishment of a Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre; clearly indicating the interoperability with the Lake Victoria Maritime Communications Network and the Search and Rescue Centre.

Recommend optimal institutional, legal and governance structures for the implementation, operation, and maintenance of Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre;

 Search and Rescue Institutions

Review previous studies on SAR undertaken and assess the status of existing Search and Rescue (SAR) Institutions in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda; and propose how these will interoperate with the Regional Search and Rescue Institution

Assess basic facilities required for SAR, propose which institutions could be incorporated in the proposed SAR for safety on Lake Victoria;

Define the linkage of the proposed SAR with the MRCC; and how its communication component will be defined in the Lake Victoria Marine Communication Network.

Create a short term plan (that could immediately be implemented) and a long term plan for organization of SAR resources; and

Prepare a project document comprising operating mechanism of the three components mentioned above.


The objective of the consultancy is to define the inter-relation and interoperability between the commercial and safety components (non-commercial) of the Maritime Communications for Safety on Lake Victoria and to define a Public Private Partnership (PPP) implementation approach which will lead to the realisation of the Connect Africa Summit Goals of connecting African villages to the broadband ICT services by 2015 and implement shared access initiatives.

It is proposed to implement the project into two distinct parts: (i) the commercial components including the expansion of telecommunication coverage over the lake surface, and (ii) the provision of positioning services and rescue communication services. The study will, therefore, define the inter-linkages of all the components of the Lake Victoria Communications Systems for commercial and safety purposes.


The consultancy focuses on establishing inter-relation between the three key components of the Maritime Communications for Safety on Lake Victoria namely: Lake Victoria Communications Network; Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre; and Search and Rescue facilities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda accessible to the Lake Victoria Basin.

Building on work that has already been completed, and in consultation with the EAC, LVBC, Search and Rescue (SAR) institutions in the region, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and other stakeholders, the consultant’s tasks will include data collection, analysis, proposing technical solutions, and preparing the documents necessary for implementation of the recommended infrastructure.

Project Schedule

The study will start on July 1, 2009 and be completed in February 2010.


The proposed consultancy and the resulting Project Document would bring the Lake Victoria Maritime Communications project to the “bankable” stage, i.e., form the basis for requesting participation by investors and other financiers in funding the project. The Project Document will comprise the following sections:

Lake Victoria maritime Communications Network

Chapters on technical, commercial, regulatory/licensing, environmental and organizational aspects of the proposed Lake Victoria Communications Network; and

Bidding Documents.

Establishment of Maritime Rescue Coordination Center

Chapters on technical, financial, organizational and operational aspects of the Centre including job descriptions and training needs of staff that would manage the centre.

Search and Rescue Institutions/Facilities

Chapters on status of SAR facilities in the EAC Partner States around Lake Victoria Basin; proposed SAR organizational mechanism for Lake Victoria; required support for existing SAR institutions; short and long term Implementation plans for SAR/MRCC for Lake Victoria.

Stakeholder’s Workshop

Workshop Report which includes stakeholders’ recommendations and list of prospective project sponsors.


LVBC has received a grant from the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund, which is hosted and managed by the African Development Bank towards the cost of the Study. The level of funding is:

Cost of consultancy - USD 312,900

Capacity building - USD 182,100

Total - USD 495,000


The Project Document produced as a result of this study will be used by LVBC to mobilize funds and facilitate implementation of programmes to make Lake Victoria a safer waterway and environment for those who make their livelihood there. The components to be implemented as a follow-up to this study are:

Lake Victoria Maritime Communication Network supporting both commercial; and safety/security dedicated traffic

A Maritime rescue Coordination Center

Search and Rescue Facilities/Institutions

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