The inspiring group of 14 Namibians who I was honored to meet, share, and tour with this past week included representatives from the private sector, government, land conservancies, conservation experts, and tourism operators. They were warm, welcoming, intelligent, and most strikingly, passionate about their work, promoting and protecting their country.
I look forward to reconnecting with them all next year when Namibia hosts the Adventure Travel World Summit in Swakopmund and Windhoek. (It is the first time the Adventure Travel Trade Association has placed its global gathering in Africa.)
The group consisted of:
Ketji Jermain, the community liaison manager for Wilderness Safaris, where he is responsible for managing the tourism joint venture agreements with conservancies as well as a liaising with key stakeholders in the conservation and tourism sectors. Learn more at www.wilderness-safaris.com.
Bennett Kahuure, the manager of tourism and conservancy support for Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA), in which he is responsible for US $18.2 million. He’s working hard to bridge the infrastructure gap with the intent to raise rural peoples livelihoods in education, agriculture, and tourism across the board.
Fabiola Katamila, chief warden of the concession unit of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, where she works closely with private sector tour operators and communal conservancies, assessing applications to work in conservancy areas.
Rector Mbeha Kawana, the assistant director of the Namibian Association of Community-Based Support Organizations (NACSO), where he supports programs financed by MCA as well as assisting the director in support programs for the 76 communal conservancies in Namibia (which cover 18 percent of the country).
Martha Mulokoshi, a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) project officer who supports tourism business development, assisting communal conservancies to establish viable joint ventures with private partners. She’s a firecracker with endless energy and passion for her culture, her country, and conservation.
Cebens Munanzi, manager of tourism and conservancy support for the Wuparo Conservancy, where he supervises 10 game guards and maintains relations with Nkasa Lupala Tented Lodge, a joint venture with private investors.
Aisha Nakibuule, the acting director of Namibia Development Trust, a non-profit that makes a significant contribution to community development in rural areas. She’s been with the organization since 2003, starting as a program officer for HIV/AIDS, and now oversees relationships with communal conservancies, and the donors and partners of the NDT. Learn more at www.ndt.org.na.
Hilda Namwenyo, manager of the Sheya shUushona Conservancy and one of Namibia’s first female conservancy managers, where she oversees and acts on behalf of the community in the conservancy’s goals and initiatives.
Selma Nangolo, tourism grants manager for Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) where she ensures criteria are met by grantees as well as oversees their timely disbursement, tracking grants use and performance.
Alex Ndango, the chairman of the Muduva Nyangana Conservancy, where he oversees and acts on behalf of the conservancy’s goals and initiatives.
Usiel Ndjavera, a tourism business advisor for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) who trains communal conservancies on joint venture agreements with private sector partners, in addition to providing training and advice about small business development.
“Pepe” Giampietro Olivotto, an entrepreneur and skilled builder who specializes in woodwork and canvas construction, building luxurious lodges in remote and wild areas of Namibia. Learn more at www.pepebushcamps.com.
Dusty Rodgers, an investor and skilled entrepreneur who has established numerous successful tourism joint ventures with rural communities and communal conservancies. His ability to develop and manage lodges in the most remote areas with little or no infrastructure is not only impressive but has widely felt social impact, employing and training local communities to build and ultimately work in his lodges. Learn more at www.caprivicollection.com.
Gustav Tjiundukamba, chairman of the Omatendeka Conservancy, where he oversees conservancy operations in addition to joint ventures with Big Skies Lodges (which manages Etendeka Lodge in the conservancy). He was known as “Pastor” during the week, saying a prayer before each meal as a blessing.