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Sharing tourism revenues

ANALYSIS | RONALD MUSOKE | Communities that live closest to wildlife conservancies across Africa want their contribution to the continent’s booming wildlife-based tourism recognized – with a bigger cheque. The communities are targeting money from governments, the private sector and international organisations.

“If we are to compare what we get in terms of tourism receipts and the average that a casual labourer gets in a tourism venture, can we really talk about an economic justice system that is delivering opportunities for all and that can lift everybody out of poverty?” said Masego Madzwamuse, a human rights activist from Botswana.

She added: “The sector also needs to address the issue of human dignity; there is no dignity in living side by side with wildlife (that is) generating large sums of income when you struggle to feed your family.”

She was speaking at the first ever Africa Wildlife Summit convened between June 23-25 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the African Union (AU).

Held in the Zimbabwean town of Victoria Falls, which is within the expansive Victoria Falls National Park with the smoky Victoria Falls on the Zambezi river in the backdrop, the summit was graced by Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe, Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana), Hage Geingob (Namibia) and Edgar Lungu (Zambia), as well as business leaders, academics, civil society and ministers from across Africa.

Several speakers spoke about the future of Africa’s people and wildlife, how to unlock investments using wildlife, how the private sector can effectively invest in the wildlife economy and how communities living adjacent to wildlife conservancies need a “new deal” and not the current “raw deal.”

“We feel that the governments and other partners understand the importance of the communities in conservation and as caretakers of protected areas, we should see this reflected through the revenue these areas and wildlife bring in,” said Ishmael Chaukura, a Zimbabwean community leader.

In the end, a declaration signed by 40 community representatives from Botswana, DR Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, called for urgent reforms in the management of wildlife conservation zones.

“We need to see reform, where our communities are put in control of the nature and wildlife they live with. At the moment, decisions are taken by others and imposed on us,” said Chaukura, the Zimbabwean community leader.

He added: “Communities see only a fraction of the income from wildlife and nature earnings, yet we bear the costs of living with wildlife.”

Tourism drives 8.5% of Africa’s GDP and provides 24 million jobs with four of every five tourists visiting the continent coming to see wildlife in Africa’s 8400 protected areas, according to data communicated at the summit. These tourist excursions earn governments across the continent up to US$48 billion.

But, delegates were told, Africa’s national parks and other state-owned conservancies could earn even more. Hospitality and recreation spend could double to more than US$ 260 billion by 2030 and provide significantly more tourism jobs.

A working paper presented at the summit by Space for Giants, a Nairobi-based international conservation non-profit noted that bringing new private-sector investments to underfunded protected areas to capitalize on surging interest in nature-based tourism would help fund conservation without draining state finances, while driving sustainable local and national development. The paper was co-authored by Space for Giants and Conservation Capital; a conservation business and finance advisory firm.

Titled `Building a Wildlife Economy: Developing Nature—Based Tourism in African state protected Areas,’ the paper noted that capitalizing on surging interest in nature-based tourism by bringing new private-sector investments to underfunded protected areas could help fund conservation and drive sustainable local and national development without draining state finances.

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DECLARATION – Voices of the Communities: A New Deal for Rural Communities and Wildlife and Natural Resources

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe 24-25 June 2019

We, the over 40 community representatives of 12 countries across Africa have met prior to Africa’s Wildlife Economy Summit, to tell the stories of our experiences of living with and among Africa’s wonderful wildlife that our forebears watched over and cared for from time immemorial as an integral part of their societies’ culture, traditions and economies. We have discussed the role of communities in managing wildlife resources on their land – bearing the costs of living among them sustainably over centuries, despite the continuing legacy of dis-empowering colonial laws and policies.

A key component of Africa’s economic potential lies in its biodiversity and wildlife economy, as a unique competitive advantage, for fighting poverty and building resilient communities. Given rapid changes facing Africa in terms of growing poverty and inequality, impacts of climate change, and increasing land transformation that have the potential to destabilize economies of the continent, urgent attention needs to be paid to these threats.

We are not helpless communities. We have strong capacity to take this New Deal forward ourselves, if our rights of ownership, governance and use of our natural resources are recognized and respected, as share-holders and not mere stakeholders.

We therefore implore you the Heads of State and governments in Africa together with the private sector and international organizations to recognize the role of communities in the ownership, management and conservation of natural resources that drives the wildlife economy across Africa and to address our concerns. Let us move from a raw-deal to a New Deal.

Goals

Noting increasing rural poverty across the continent, loss of wildlife and habitat, lack of inclusion of communities in decision making and lack of rights, our goal is to reset the agenda for community based natural resources management to:

  • Reduce poverty at household level;
  • Turn wildlife into a rural economic engine;
  • Achieve self-determination and security of rights and tenure; and
  • Develop strong community institutions to govern wildlife sustainably.

Solutions and Way Forward

With consideration of the above arguments, we the communities of Africa propose the following as the way forward to achieve a New Deal:

  • Recognize community rights over the ownership, management and use of resources
  • Strengthen community governance and institutions
  • Build and enhance local capacity of communities to govern and manage natural resources
  • Recapitalize the communities and their natural resources including across boundaries
  • Ensure that community voices are heard in shaping policy and decision making – from the local to the global level
  • Strengthen evidence-based adaptive management, incorporating indigenous knowledge
  • Promote investment partnerships in a community-owned wildlife economy.
  • Ensure that a full and fair share of benefits from the wildlife economy flow directly to the communities.
  • Change the development model from doing things for communities to financing well-governed communities to do things for themselves

This is an invitation to Heads of State and governments, the private sector and international organizations to work with us to allow our continent’s communities to achieve a New Deal that will become a stronger foundation of Africa’s Wildlife Economy.

It is our request that this Declaration be part of the formal record of this Summit.

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African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) States and Private Sector Dialogue on Development Finance and Knowledge Sharing

On May 14-16, 2019, the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of States convened a knowledge sharing and networking event in Mauritius, where delegates exchanged information and experiences on private sector development in East Africa and Southern Africa.

The event’s objectives were to inform delegates from private sector and governments on the recent development of the European Investments Plans and other funding programmes by the EU and African institutions. Funding options, for example for SMME development, their inclusion in value chains, funding for farmers’ associations and options for investment were shared with participants. Panellists from across the African continent shared best practice examples to improve the investment climate and collaboration between the private sector and governments in countries such as Ethiopia, Mauritius and Kenya. Furthermore, trends regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution and digitalisation / automation were discussed.

On the side-lines of the Mauritius Dialogue, the Southern Africa Trust and the NEPAD Business Foundation also took this opportunity to co-facilitate a meeting of the recently launched SADC Business Council. The SADC Business Council is aiming to be the central regional private sector platform that will facilitate policy engagement between the private sector, including small businesses, and SADC Member States in order to foster industrialisation, economic development and wealth creation in the region.

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