Kenya challenged to invest more on conservancies

NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya and other African countries stand to earn more revenue from increased investment in national parks and other state-owned conservation a new report states.

The working paper released on Monday by conservation organization Space for Giants finds that private sector engagement in underfunded areas holds the key to more earnings from conservation.

The report dubbed Building a Wildlife Economy: Developing Nature-Based Tourism in African State Protected Areas was launched during ongoing Africa’s Wildlife Economy Summit hosted by the African Union and UN Environment in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It was published by the Kenyan-based Space for Giants in collaboration with Conservation Capital in a venture co-funded by UN Environment.

Engaging new private-sector investment to underfunded protected areas to capitalise on the surging interest in nature-based tourism would help fund conservation without draining state finances while driving sustainable local and national development reads the report.

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“Four of every five tourists to sub-Saharan Africa visit to view wildlife,” the Paper’s authors write, also stating, “The number of tourists is set to double to 134 million by 2030.

Currently, tourism already drives 8.5 percent of Africa’s GDP and provides 24 million jobs.

The report further states that spending on tourism, hospitality, and recreation could double to more than $260 billion by 2030 in Sub Saharan Africa.

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But the natural assets that give Africa its global competitive advantage - its wildlife and landscapes - are under acute threat and could be lost forever unless they urgently prove their economic as well as ecological value.

Some protected areas receive only one in every ten dollars they need, as governments grapple with financial shortfalls amid competing priorities like health, education, and infrastructure development.

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Dickson Kaelo, the CEO of Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association says that to achieve this, the Kenyan government needs to incentivize conservancies.

“Kenya has 160 conservancies out of which only 30 have tourism facilities; if the remaining ones can be enabled to have these facilities then they would have a positive ripple effect in the value chain,” states Kaelo.

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