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President praises community initiatives

President praises community initiatives

H.E. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama meets the Ngoma Lodge management
H.E. Lt. Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama meets the Ngoma Lodge management

Chobe Enclave Community Trust was the first community based organisation of its kind to be registered with the Botswana government under the newly established Community Based Natural Resources Management Project in the early 1990s.

The Trust was formed to realise benefits from tourism for local communities and to receive sustainable proceeds from natural resources, while also protecting them for future generations. CECT is situated in the Chobe Enclave, close to the Namibian border, serving the five villages of Parakarungu, Satau, Kachikau, Kavimba and Mabele. Each village has an appointed council of ten members which then nominate the Board of Trustees. The current chairperson is Thomas Sinvula.

Other trusts with similar objectives have been formed and after nearly two decades there is cynicism amongst some about what can be achieved. However CECT has a proven track record and has used income from various hunting and photographic joint ventures to develop small businesses such as grinding mills, shared tractors services, phone shops, grocery shops, hardware stores, a campsite, a cultural village and a brick moulding business.

In March 2010 a memorandum of agreement was signed between Ngoma Management Company and CECT, with the assistance of the Botswana Tourism Organisation, to begin construction of the up-market Ngoma Safari Lodge. Ngoma Management is part of Africa Albida Tourism which has other operations in Zimbabwe. CECT already benefits from a land lease fee and will receive a bed levy from the lodge, while the majority of the lodge employees are from the local community.

Ngoma Safari Lodge was officially opened on 28 July 2011 by the President of Botswana, Ian Khama.

“This project is proof that with the right resolve, commitment, vision and business discipline, our communities and citizens can indeed graduate to ownership of top-end tourism projects,” said the President.

“The official opening of Ngoma Safari Lodge is testament of the tangible outputs of our belief in what can be further achieved, not only growing our national tourism sector towards much needed economic diversification, but also demonstrating how we can resolve dynamics often seen as too complex in strategising ownership between citizens and foreign investors.”

Matt Smith, Ngoma Management director, commented “I have been involved with CECT for nearly 14 years they make for great partners.” Ross Kennedy, chief executive of Africa Albida Tourism, added “To have the President of Botswana recognise our efforts in this way is truly special. It is one thing to create and run a successful lodge, but to do this and make a positive impact on the community whilst doing so is something that few have been able to achieve. We are proud to be involved in such a great initiative.”

Read more from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 06, Sept 2011)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Zambezi Traveller Directory:
Africa Albida Tourism