The President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday officially opened the firstt ever Africa Wildlife Economic Summit.
The summit organized by Africa Union and United Nations is aimed at finding solutions to empower natives that live around national parks.
President Mnangagwa expressed gratitude to the chance to host the inaugural summit under the theme ‘Communities for Conservation, Harnessing Conservation Tourism and Supporting Governments.
“This resonates with our renewed effort to ensure that our citizens benefit from the sustainable management of natural resources and wildlife. Thriving wildlife resources have a tremendous potential to be instrumental in sustainable socio-economic development through associated wildlife oriented businesses such as eco-tourism, hunting and photographic safaris among other benefits,” he said.
Speaking at the summit launch at the Victoria falls’ Elephant Hills Hotel, the President urged African countries to utilize platforms such as the African Wildlife Summit to explore innovative ways to leverage wildlife resources to grow their economies, eradicate poverty, achieve broad based empowerment and create decent jobs, especially for women and youth.
The UN Environment Programme, Deputy Executive Director, Joyce Msuya said that the diverse wildlife offers vast opportunities for economic and social development for African countries, through sustainable use of wildlife assets, ecotourism and related ancillary services to protected areas.
“We are, therefore, united against illegal wildlife syndicates, which promote the poaching of our prized wildlife, posing a serious threat to the future of the wildlife sector”.
Msuya added that the summit offers the continent a unique opportunity for cross fertilization of ideas in wildlife management.
“We also hope it can unite all stakeholders and diverse players in the wildlife sector. These range from political leadership, communities and the private sector who all need to join hands to come up with ideas and solutions designed to bring about sustainable socio-economic benefits to our people.”
Some of the Presidents attending the summit are Mokgweetsi Masisi the President of Botswana, Edgar Lungu President of Zambia and Hage Geingob President of Namibia.