Windhoek — Tourism concessions not only empower rural communities but also increase the economic value of protected areas and other state land, the minister of environment and tourism, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
Speaking at a signing ceremony, where four concessions were awarded to conservancies in the Kavango and Kunene regions, the minister said, communities, through the Community Based Natural Resources Management Programme (CBNRM), must have direct control over the utilisation of the land so that they too can benefit financially. "Concessions to the communities are a mechanism that will bring about economic empowerment to the rural population of our country and will bring about a balanced sharing of our natural resources. "Concessions also increase the economic value of proclaimed protected areas and other state land including communal areas and they also maintain and strengthen conservation of biodiversity as well as the maintenance of the ecological integrity," Nandi-Ndaitwah said.
The Etendeka concession in the Kunene region was awarded to the Anabeb and Omatendeka conservancies, while the Ehirovipuka conservancy received the Hobatere Roadside Concession.
The Hobatere North Concession, in the Kunene region, was awarded to the #Khoadi //Hôas conservancy and the Ngoabaca White Sands Concession in the Kavango region went to the Kyaramacan Association. In order to benefit from the concessions, the communities will have to mobilise capital investment of about N$100 million. "Therefore, by signing these concessions, conservancies and communities can now go out onto the market, including banks, to mobilise capital investment. They also have the right to enter into partnership with the private sector," said the minister. She, however, warned that these partnerships will be subjected to government approval and that all joint venture agreements between conservancies/communities and the private sector must be certified by the Attorney General.
The concessions were awarded for a period of 20 years and are jointly expected to create 256 permanent jobs and once operational, they are expected to generate more than N$7 million annually in concession fees and taxes.