The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism says it is finalising a tender that will allow private investors to bid and take over management of the Gaborone Game Reserve.
This morning, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Oduetse Koboto told the Parliament Committee on Government Assurances that the process was at an advanced stage.
The 550 hectare reserve on the city’s eastern limits is popular with residents and visitors alike, at one point being ranked the third-most visited reserve in the country. However, in 2010, the ministry announced plans to wean off the reserve, together with others around the country, in order to enhance their upkeep and development.
“Plans are underway and in fact, we are finalising the Expression of Interest for us to lease Gaborone Game Reserve to the private sector for them to run it much better than we can,” Koboto said.
“This is also part of the opportunities for citizen economic empowerment and for us to allow the private sector to play a major role in tourism development for the city.”
Koboto added: “We are moving ahead in the attempt to privatise the reserve and there is movement and concrete actions being taken.”
After the 2010 announcement, government in 2015 said funds from the Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) would be used to develop Gaborone Game Reserve in order to attract more tourists to the capital city.
“The upgrading of Gaborone Game Reserve is planned under the ESP,” acting tourism minister,
“The proposed project includes developments such as upgrading of the fence to improve security, development of walking trails and public picnic sites, upgrading of the education centre and development of restaurant and accommodation facilities.”
Kanye North MP, Thapelo Letsholo this morning quizzed Koboto and his officials about the circumstances under which the upgrade was not done under the ESP.
“For us with a passion for tourism and seeing the city develop, we need to treat this matter with a bit more seriousness.
“I want to know if there was actually a plan for the improvements or maintenance of Gaborone Game Reserve within the ESP.”
Koboto told the committee that the upgrade was subsequently not included under the ESP and the focus was now on leasing the reserve out to the private sector.
“I’m informed that those were proposals that were made but it was removed from the ESP and never actually made it in,” he said.
“From our side, we are moving ahead to try and achieve the same objective by leasing it to the private sector.”
The Gaborone Game Reserve was established in 1988 by the Kalahari Conservation Society to give the Gaborone public an opportunity to view wildlife in a natural setting.