New opportunities in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Botswana Government is planning to make provisions for the development of commercial activities within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (KTP) in order to reap more returns from the boundary park the country shares with South Africa.
This is after it came to light that South Africa is doing much better within their half of the shared park as the country has long availed commercial activities.
The revelation was made in Parliament by Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Setlhabelo Modukanele on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Tourism Philda Kereng.
The Ministry told parliament last week that they will be embarking on a process of reviewing the KPT management plan during the 2024 financial year, with the aim of harmonizing operations between the two sides and increasing investment opportunities for the Botswana side.
The ministry said this will open doors for businesses such as fuel stations and convenient shops.
“The review of the management plan will identify options and opportunities for increasing investment and beneficiation by Botswana local communities and the private sector,” said Modukanele.
The KTP is co-managed by South African Parks (SAN parks), on the South African side and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) on the Botswana side and according to the minister, because SAN Parks is a parastatal, it is fully commercialised with fully fledged businesses operating, while the Botswana side currently has only two lodges.
“The commercial or activities on the South African side are due to a combination of investment by the SAN Parks who are mandated to operate businesses and the private sector. The Botswana side does not have many commercial activities and this was due to lack of infrastructures such as electricity which is necessary for businesses to optimally operate,” Modukanele said.
He however maintained that there are plans to increase the commercial activities as the ministry is in the process of allocating campsites within the Botswana side of the park and has already paid Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) for power connection from the ESKOM grid. BPC is said to be working on the logistics with their counterparts to facilitate the electricity connection.
The ministry was responding to a parliamentary question by Kanye North legislator, Thapelo Letsholo who wanted the Ministry to respond to allegations that South Africa prohibits Botswana tourists and Botswana tourism operators from using their airstrip, and that SA allows night drives while Botswana does not.
In response Modukanela denied the airstrip rumour but admitted that Botswana indeed does not do night game drives which is disadvantaging local operators.
“Current standards operation procedures on this subject matter which are in practice clearly permit Botswana operators to use airstrips on the South African side. This standing operating procedures will be updated at the next Botswana/South Africa Joint Park Management Committee meeting scheduled for August of this year,” further clarified Modukanele who added that the ministry was not aware of any clients from the Botswana side who were denied access to the airstrips on the South African side to date.