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The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the COMESA to ensure that wildlife habitats and other natural areas are least negatively impacted by Africa’s development projects.

Under the MoU, COMESA shall work with its members to provide the necessary policy and legal framework for the development of the conservation and tourism sector that underpin the conservation of protected areas and community lands. This will encourage private sector investments in the tourism development in protected areas and communities.

The President of African Wildlife Foundation, Mr. Kaddu Sebunya signed on behalf of his organisation while Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya singed on behalf of COMESA at a ceremony held in the margins of the Global African Investment Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on 5th September 2016 at the Kigali Convention Centre.

Mr Sebunya said his organization is strengthening impactful advocacy efforts to inspire African leadership at every level to champion a development agenda with conservation at its core.

“As the primary advocate for wildlife and wild lands on the continent, we want to inspire, educate, and empower with alternative options that provide safeguards for sustainable investment decisions,” Mr. Sebunya said. “Ecosystem goods and services are intrinsic to human development as they provide the resource base that is often the natural capital for current and future development of Africa.”

The Secretary-General urged countries in Africa to relax visa requirements to spur wildlife tourism and generate more revenue for countries.

He pledged the commitment of COMESA in ensuring policy dialogue on issues pertaining to wildlife poaching and trafficking in threatened and vulnerable wildlife specimen and also mobilise governments to promote environmental and natural resource conservation and sustainable use of at the grass root level.

“COMESA shall also collaborate with AWF in developing and implementing habitat conservation, species, and community and enterprise programmes and coordinate a common position with regard to environment conservation in respect to member states,” he said.