Harare — The Botswana Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila has said the proposed Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Park (KZTP) has potential to boost tourism, regional integration and development amongst its five southern Africa partners. He was speaking in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, last week during the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding between Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Angola, which laid the foundation for the establishment of the KZTP.
He added that communities living in the area would also benefit. "It is only us who can make that happen. The benefits will not present themselves to us, we must achieve them. We can only do so if we cooperate," he said.
He added that the MoU highlights the willingness of the five countries to co-operate at regional level and ensure that the park succeeds. A number of implementing agencies, donors, non-governmental organisations and private safari areas will also be part of the KZTP.
Looking ahead to the FIFA World Cup to be hosted by South Africa in 2010, Mokaila said countries in southern Africa need to ready themselves to benefit from the soccer showcase, expected to attract hundreds of thousands of international tourists to South Africa and its neighbours. KZTP, also known as Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA ö TFCA) will be Africa's biggest cross border conservation project. It measures 30,000 square kilometres, encompassing the Okavango and Zambezi river basin including a total of 36 national parks, game reserves, community wildlife areas and wildlife management areas such as Victoria Falls, Okavango Delta, Chobe Game Reserve and Caprivi Strip. It becomes the 14th cross border conservation area in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Zimbabwe's Minister of Environment and Tourism, Francis Nhema, highlighted that the conservation area was endowed with various tourism facilities, wildlife as well as other natural endowments. "This is one of the reasons we have committed our land for conservation," said Nhema. He said the countries must invest in the preservation of resources in the area.
Kabinga Pande, Zambia's Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources said the tourism industry could be a key vehicle in socio-economic development. He noted that the mutual trust among the five neighbours had made the creation of the park a success. "This has enabled the five states to step out of the comfort of their national boundaries and sovereignty over their natural resources and allow for the establishment of the KAZA TFCA and manage it as one spatial area of common interest to the people of the five states."
His Angolan counterpart, Eduardo Chingunji noted that the KZTP is clear testimony that there are many positive developments on the continent despite negative international media publicity.
"This will project a positive image of Africa, a continent that has suffered from bad publicity for decades," he said. He reiterated that Africans have the capacity to develop themselves and that communities living in the areas would reap benefits from the envisaged park, which will contain the highest concentration of elephants on the continent.