Sustainable business models for national parks & reserves: Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia & Rwanda


Context: Many of Africa’s most important conservation landscapes fall within national protected area systems. With increasing demands on public purses, protected areas authorities face new pressures to build more sustainable business cases, but often lack the experience or capacity to do this. Conservation Capital is very actively engaged in this context - sometimes these engagements cover entire protected area systems, sometimes just individual protected area landscapes. 

Protected Area Systems: Kenya and Zimbabwe
Historically, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) entered into commercial contracts with third party tourism operators on a case-by-case basis. This resulted in an unstructured portfolio of partnerships that fostered complexity, inefficiency and low returns. Conservation Capital designed a uniform commercial formula for all tourism contracts that will double returns to KWS over time.  Based on the success of this initiative, we developed a similar formula for ZimParks specifically designed to foster the regeneration of tourism operations in Zimbabwe following the widespread economic collapse of the late 2000’s.

Individual Protected Areas: Simien Mountain NP (Ethiopia) & Nyungwe NP (Rwanda)
In addition to developing commercial solutions for entire protected area networks we have more recently been asked to develop bespoke business plans for individual national parks. We have completed such a plan in 2014 for Simien National Park in Ethiopia on behalf of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) that has quickly catalysed a number of new commercial ventures. In 2015 we began a similar assignment for the Rwanda Development Board – this time focused on analysing options both for the commercial development of Nyungwe National Park, and the basis upon which this could be achieved within the context of a public-private co-management partnership with an international conservation NGO.