The African Leadership University (ALU), through its School of Wildlife Conservation (SOWC), in partnership with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) are organizing this year’s Business of Conservation Conference (BCC) in Kigali from tomorrow 8th to 9th September 2019.
This year’s BCC is the culmination of the 15th annual ‘Kwita Izina’ gorilla naming ceremony.
It will bring together top African CEOs, political leaders, technologists, investors, entrepreneurs, and innovative conservationists to hold discussions and make commitments under the theme: Environmental investing: from scarcity to abundance. The conference sessions will be centered around what it takes to make conservation a growth industry on the continent.
The stakeholders will explore how conservation can be a driver of economic growth in Africa. Some of them include;
Leaders in Government: Clare Akamanzi, CEO of Rwanda Development Board and Evelyn Kamagaju, Vice-chair of Rwanda Development Board, Eugene Mutangana, Head of Conservation for the Rwanda Development Board;
Leaders at the Frontline of Conservation: Fred Nelson, founder of Maliasili; Werner Myburgh, CEO of Peace Parks Foundation; Brian McBrearity, Vice President of Technology and Innovation at African Wildlife Foundation and Anna Behm Masozera, Director at International Gorilla Conservation Programme;
Leaders in Business: Matthew Arnold, Global Head of Sustainable Finance at JP Morgan; and Phillip Ihenacho, a Nigerian entrepreneur developing an unusual protected area in Nigeria;
Leaders in Conservation Tourism: Luke Bailes, CEO of Singita, Jeroen Harderwijk and Bas Hochstenbach, co-founders of Asilia; Calvin Cottar, CEO of Cottar’s Safari Camps; and Beks Ndlovu, CEO of African Bush Camp.
Commenting on this year’s conference and RDB’s partnership with ALU, Clare Akamanzi, RDB CEO said:
“Kwita Izina, a family of conservation and tourism events that now include this year’s BCC conference, not only celebrates Rwanda’s significant conservation and sustainable tourism achievements, but shares our experience with the world. This conference is an important call to action in support of conservation and sustainable tourism in Rwanda and beyond.”
“When we launched the conference last year, we thought to ourselves: how do we think differently about conservation, to not look at conservation for its sake but a means to an end, where the end is economic development and to benefit African people,” says Fred Swaniker, Founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group. “We want to get conservation out of the shadows and into the mainstream so that people see it as one of Africa’s greatest assets for growth.”
African Leadership University is a network of world-class tertiary education institutions whose mission is to produce 3 million young African leaders by 2035. . ALU has been recognized by Fast Company as the ‘number 1 most innovative company in Africa. ALU’s first campus was inaugurated in September 2015 in Mauritius and is known as African Leadership College. Its second campus was inaugurated in September 2017 in Kigali Heights, Rwanda for an undergraduate and MBA program.
About the School of Wildlife Conservation:
The School of Wildlife Conservation is the first of its kind on the continent, dedicated to teaching the next generation of world-class conservation leaders in Africa. The school identifies, educates and connects the leaders to existing conservationists across the continent through a conservation specialization at the undergraduate and MBA level.
The Rwanda Development Board is responsible for tourism and conservation, as well as the entire investor experience. The Rwanda Development Board manages the tourism industry in Rwanda and ensures that the tourism and conservation goals of the Government of Rwanda are successfully implemented.
About Kwita Izina:
Kwita Izina is a time-honored tradition in which Rwandan families hold a ceremony to name a newborn baby. For three decades prior to the first official gorilla naming ceremony, park rangers and researchers named Rwanda’s mountain gorilla babies as part of monitoring each gorilla in their family and habitat.
The Government of Rwanda, through the Rwanda Development Board and in collaboration with conservation partners, the private sector and local communities, has achieved remarkable success in protecting and growing the endangered mountain gorilla population and conserving its habitat. Rwanda’s traditional naming ceremony was adapted to celebrate this success as a national flagship event now known as Kwita Izina.
Kwita Izina was introduced in 2005 to raise awareness of conservation efforts and to thank communities for their on-going and invaluable participation and support of these initiatives. It is now the most important event on Rwanda’s conservation calendar, and is attended by national, regional and international participants.
281 baby mountain gorillas have been named since Kwita Izina began. Alongside the naming ceremony, a weeklong celebration of activities is hosted to share the importance of conservation and the role of tourism in protecting rare and iconic species. Today, Kwita Izina is fast becoming Africa’s leading dialogue on conservation and sustainable tourism.
As a result of conservation efforts such as Kwita Izina, the population of the endangered mountain gorilla increased to 604 in 2016 in the Virunga Massif compared to 480 in 2010. The Virunga Massif is comprised of Mikeno Sector of Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. Mountain gorilla numbers in the entire region had fallen as low as 242 in 1981.