Kaza discusses oil and gas

21 May 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The exploration of oil and gas within the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) formed part of the discussions at the during the 12th KAZA TFCA ministers’ committee meeting.

Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said in his opening statement during the meeting that the issue of oil and gas exploration in the KAZA TFCA is an important matter and as ministers responsible for the KAZA TFCA they should have a position in order to give directives through their respective governments.

The KAZA TFCA is the largest transfrontier conservation area in the world covering almost 520 000 square kilometres in Angola, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Namibia took over the coordination role of KAZA TFCA from Botswana last year, at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Shifeta said although structural meetings therefore did not take place as anticipated, there have been different other meetings facilitated by the Secretariat.

These included meetings of desk officers, the chief executives of national tourism organisations and the directors of wildlife.

According to Shifeta all these meetings ensured that processes for the development of KAZA did not stall.

Specific concerns

Shifeta highlighted specific concerns regarding the development of KAZA that were shared by Botswana.

These included delays in remittances to the KAZA Fund and the inadequacy of current contributions in sustaining Secretariat operations.

Another concern was the absence of detailed information of investments by governments and other partners in the country components of KAZA.

Shifeta said the handover notes from Botswana also highlighted several concerns such as expired integrated development plans, the absence of stronger funding pipelines for projects and institutional matters, notably the KAZA Treaty ratification and KAZA Fund constitution signing and own contributions to this Fund.

“These challenges will not disappear without our collective concerted efforts, and moreover, there are even more challenges such as the coronavirus which has shown us the fragile nature of the tourism sector which is key to KAZA.”

He added that the international spotlight remains on KAZA because of its globally significant wildlife populations.

“Recognising the urgency in addressing the concerns, the Namibian government remain faithfully committed to ensure that the KAZA Treaty is implemented.”

Progress

The meeting was expected to provide updates on progress since the last meeting, including the directives from the Kasane Elephant Summit, rolling out of the KAZA univisa to other partner states and discussions with the British government on the sidelines of the African Wildlife Economy Summit.

He stressed that slow implementation of projects is both a financial and reputational risk which must be addressed.

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