Akagera National Park gets new management

Barely a month after concluding a joint management and co-financing deal to oversee further development of Akagera National Park, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has handed over the park to the contracted management. At a handover ceremony conducted early this week, African Parks Network (APN), a South African based conservation group formally took over the management of the park. The company has promised to deliver on biodiversity conservation, and sustainable natural resource utilisation.
African Parks Network CEO Peter Fearnhead
African Parks Network CEO Peter Fearnhead

Barely a month after concluding a joint management and co-financing deal to oversee further development of Akagera National Park, Rwanda Development Board (RDB) has handed over the park to the contracted management.
At a handover ceremony conducted early this week, African Parks Network (APN), a South African based conservation group formally took over the management of the park.

The company has promised to deliver on biodiversity conservation, and sustainable natural resource utilisation.

“The negotiations have now been concluded in which RDB and APN have entered into a formal agreement for the joint management and financing of Akagera National Park (ANP),” a statement by RDB says.

The partnership agreement was signed by John Gara the CEO of RDB and Mr. Peter Fearnhead, the CEO of APN in early December, 2009. 

RDB says that all the pertinent legal and institutional framework for the partnership has been established through the agreement.

Business Times has since learnt that the agreement and management structures and systems that are elaborated on the joint management of the park were approved by cabinet in November 2009.

“The partnership agreement is tenable for an initial period of 20 years and can be renewed by mutual agreement’, the RDB statement said.

Part of the management agreement between the two parties stipulates the formation of a special purpose limited liability company to run the affairs of the park.

This company which is in the process of being incorporated will be known as The Akagera National Park Foundation.

The envisaged company structure has RDB with a 49 percent stake with special veto powers over the major management decisions while APN will retain the majority holding of 51percent.

The management of the company will be overseen by a seven board member, three of whom will be appointed by RDB and four by APN. The new company will be chaired by a representative of RDB while APN will nominate its CEO.

According to officials, APN has already come up with a 5 year strategic plan for the park. In this APN expects to raise $10 million from various sources.

“The key aspect of our plan is to enable Akagera to be financially sustainable by being independent of donor funding in the foreseeable future.

To achieve that a $10 million park development programme has been agreed upon between RDB and APN’, Peter Fearnhead told Business Times.

Fearnhead added that APN as an organization has a management style and approach that is unique which has been tested across a number of parks in Africa.

Fearnhead reiterated that the deal between RDB and APN is a management agreement which did not amount to a takeover of the park.

“The special purpose company in this case has no ownership stake whatsoever over Akegera’, he added.

The handover of Akagera to APN means technically that the multi-million dollar deal that Dubai World had signed with Rwanda over Akegera stands in limbo.

Dubai World which was adversely affected by the global financial crisis last year was unable to meet its obligations under an agreement with government over Akagera.

“For us it was a pleasure for RDB to have revisited our interest in partnering with Rwanda for the purposes of managing Akagera’, Fearnhead said.

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