By Joyce Ojanji

African governments have been urged to invest adequately in wildlife conservation by creating their own sources of funding and avoiding over reliance on donor support in the sector.

This is according to Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala during the African Protected Areas Congress (APAC) that is underway in Kigali, Rwanda.

Balala noted that the continent is facing one major problem of financial sustainability and called on leaders to find sustainable ways of financing nature conservation instead of relying on tourism as a source of revenue.

‘As a continent, we need to have a sustainable financial model. We talk about donor funding but I think we need to start putting money in Africa to make sure the programs are sustainable,’ Balala said.

Najib Balala at APAC

While climate change and competition for agriculture and human settlement are still a big challenge, he said that it was important to enhance conservation to address the biodiversity crisis by protecting 30% of world’s terrestrial and marine habitats by 2030.

In this regard, Balala called for creation of corridors and spaces that are appropriate for conservation which includes working closely with the private sector to jointly manage parks for the benefit of improving the continent’s diversity.

‘We must spare no efforts in protecting and conserving this biodiversity. As human beings we all depend on safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment to survive’, he emphasized.

Rwanda’s Prime minister, Edouard Ngirente reiterated the urgent need for African countries to increase the level of investment in biodiversity particularly through strong public-private partnerships to sustainably protect, restore and manage the continent’s rich biodiversity.

He emphasized that it is of mutual benefit that the ecosystem is well taken care of, as consequences of not doing so are severe to human life.

Kaddu Sebunya, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) noted that Africa faces the challenge of economic transformation and for that the continent to overcome the challenges of wildlife protection and conservation, it will need strong alliances that bring different sectors together such as APAC.

‘APAC offers Africa the golden chances to reset and recalibrate our mindsets towards sustainable avenues that will ensure the wellbeing of wildlife and their habitats are safeguarded’, he said.

Kaddu Sebunya at APAC