The New Times (Kigali)

13 December 2009

Rwanda: RDB, African Parks Agree to Jointly Run Akagera Park

Kigali — Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and African Parks Network (APN) Wednesday signed a joint partnership pact for the management and financing of Akagera National Park, a statement released yesterday said.

During the signing, RDB was represented by its new CEO John Gara and APN by its CEO Peter Fearhead.

The partnership agreement is tenable for an initial period of 20 years, and can be renewed "on mutual agreement."

The statement said that while RDB is entering into a joint management with APN, it retains full statutory authority over the park.

APN is a non-profit making company incorporated in South Africa committed to the conservation of Africa's wildlife and parks and is a pioneer in managing conservation based on business models and public private partnership.

"The goal of the African Parks Network and the Rwanda Development Board Partnership is to develop that potential to the full, for the benefit of all Rwandese, including the local communities living around the Park," the statement says.

The agreement comes as a follow up to the recent approval by Cabinet of the management structures of the Akagera National Park.

The joint management of the park will be executed through a Joint Venture Company which will be chaired by an RDB representative and that APN will nominate a representative who will be responsible for the overall management of the park.

With an area of 1,075 sq kms, Akagera National Park remains an exceptional conservation area with a rich diversity of wildlife. It boasts over 530 bird species, and as believed, has immense potential for conservation and tourism development.

The park will benefit from APN's extensive technical and managerial expertise, in vital areas such as wildlife restocking, fencing, anti-poaching, community conservation, infrastructure development, aerial surveillance and monitoring, tourism development and habitat management.

Through its extensive international networks of bilateral and multi-lateral partners as well as private foundations, the company is able to mobilize substantial financial and technical resources for the management of various parks in its portfolio.

APN has already entered into similar joint venture pacts with Zambia and Malawi, among others, and is currently managing a total of 2.5 million hectares of protected across Africa.

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