Applications are now open for the Beyond Tourism in Africa innovation challenge. The global initiative, which is being led by the Luc Hoffmann Institute, the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation, and WWF Regional Office for Africa, seeks new revenue models that enable communities in Africa to derive income from wildlife conservation beyond the tourism sector.
Up for grabs in the chance to win a place in the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money.
The Impact of COVID-19
Over the past 30 years, conservation in Africa has become heavily dependent on tourism for revenue – especially photographic tourism and trophy hunting.
Before COVID-19, wildlife tourism directly contributed US$ 29.3 billion in GDP to the economy in Africa and directly provided 3.6 million jobs across the continent, over one-third of all jobs in tourism (36.3%).
The global shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the vulnerability of a conservation model based solely on tourism.
With the prospect of very few tourist arrivals in the short-term, protected areas and other conserved lands have had problems paying the salaries of rangers and other staff, who must find other ways of sustaining their families.
As people lose their jobs and livelihoods, there are growing fears of a surge in illegal hunting for both subsistence and to feed the commercial trade due to the decreased patrolling of parks and conservation areas in an Africa that is in ‘lockdown’.
Bring Your Bold Ideas
There is now an accelerated need for diverse revenue streams that allow for the protection of wildlife while also providing livelihoods and economic resilience to the communities who manage land or live in close proximity to wildlife.
Beyond Tourism in Africa is calling on anyone with bold ideas, no matter what sector they come from, to submit ideas that support African wildlife conservation while providing sustainable revenue for local communities.
Innovators from around the world are welcome, especially people from non-traditional conservation and alternative sectors and those with strong ties to rural communities in Africa. Ideas must meet the following criteria for consideration:
- Generates value (economic, social and cultural) for local community(ies) in Africa from wildlife or natural resources
- Does not rely on tourism to generate revenue
- Empowers communities with decision-making power and ensures their rights, dignity and livelihoods are a priority
- Demonstrates to be feasible, financially sustainable and potentially scalable
- Aims to improve the conditions for wildlife and natural resources.
Dr Sue Snyman, who heads up the Research Department at the African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation has been analysing the wildlife economies of Africa, with a focus on selected case study countries: Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles and South Africa to determine which activities bring the greatest value to the wildlife economies adds;
‘’Now more than ever it is clear that we need diversification of wildlife economy activities to build resilience and ensure the long-term sustainability of wildlife and people’s livelihoods. This challenge provides an excellent opportunity to grow and develop exciting, innovative ideas to build greater resilience’’.