Beyond tourism: A call for business ideas that protect African wildlife, ecosystems

Beyond tourism: A call for business ideas that protect African wildlife, ecosystems

CAPE TOWN — An innovation challenge launched this month hopes to inspire new ideas for businesses that will provide people in Africa with sustainable incomes while protecting ecosystems. The African Leadership University’s Kigali-based School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC) approaches conservation with the aim of enabling African communities to “take ownership of wildlife and the environment” as an incentive to protect ecosystems. The Beyond Tourism in Africa innovation challenge, seeking to uncover non-tourism business ideas for the “wildlife economy,” emerges from the school’s view of nature as “a great pillar of economic growth for Africa.” The challenge is a joint venture between SOWC, WWF Africa, and the Switzerland-based Luc Hoffmann Institute. Applications opened on Sept. 1. Up to 15 finalists will be selected in November; they will spend several months in ALU’s incubator program next year, developing their ideas before pitching them to investors in September 2021. Tourism is the most familiar example of a “conservation business.” Successful examples include gorilla tours in Uganda, which generate 60% of the Uganda Wildlife Authority’s revenue. Wildlife tourism creates jobs and revenue and a commercial incentive to protect the wildlife on which photographic safaris or trophy hunting rely. But it’s surprisingly unclear how much tourism directly contributes to conserving biodiversity. Sue Snyman, research director at SOWC, says there is not enough data to show how much tourism contributes as an industry: “Most government revenue from tourism goes into central coffers and is then dispersed as needed and so [there’s] no clarity.” Snyman is collating ...
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