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Eco-Tourism in the DRC, Opportunities and Challenges

Kamanga Clementine Shakembo, ambassador of the Democratic Republic Of Congo to Germany.

Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Germany, Kamanga Clementine Shakembo,came to the ICD to talk about the importance of eco-tourism to the development of the country.

Eco-tourism is a relatively new term which appeared in the 70s with the progressive acceptance by many citizens and governments world-wide that nature should be protected and respected. Ambassador Shakembo reminds us of the evolution of this term, defined in 1996 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Eco-tourism was then defined as a sort of tourism that does not have any negative impact on the natural surroundings visited and that exerts positive socio-economic dynamics on local populations. Eco-tourism contributes to the development of local economies as well as to the preservation of the environment

After this general introduction, Ambassador Shakembo reminds us of the very rich natural potential of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The great variety of animals, landscape and flowers makes the DRC an attractive destination for tourists but also represents a very positive economic resource. One of the most important resources of the DRC is water. 55% of the water resources of Africa are held by the DRC. The Congo River is one of the longest and largest rivers of the world. It provides great potential for fishery, electricity and communication industries. The DRC is also composed of many lakes and smaller rivers. One of the challenges underlined by Ambassador Shakembo is to attract investment and partners to develop eco-tourism. This strategy could permit the DRC to develop its resources in a sustainable manner, therefore benefitting a greater majority of the population.
One of the greatest challenges of the DRC through eco-tourism is indeed the redistribution of the benefits to local populations. It is generally acknowledged that it would permit to diminish illegal activities such as poaching and thus, to preserve the environment.

The DRC government recently showed its willingness to go further such initiatives with the publication of Célestin Nkiama Mazamba’s book « Ecotourisme et ressources en eau en RDC. Le management de l’éco-tourisme». The author, along with the ministry of education and environment, calls for the creation of new touristic sites, the training of young professionals, the education of local populations about environmental matters, and the greater development of the Congo River. This testifies to the fact that that not only so called « rich » countries care about environmental matters and sustainable development.

Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies Publication
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy
www.ccds-berlin.de
www.culturaldiplomacy.org

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