Following a successful fact-finding mission to Namibia, Lake Ngami Conservation Trust intends to kick-start a wood-processing project, among others, with a view to broadening its resource base.
The Trust Manager, Mr Galefele Maokeng said in an interview that the trust sent four local youths on a fact-finding mission to the Namibian Wood Industry Association. He said the trip was courtesy of UNDP, which agreed to fund certain community projects. He said they have trained the youths and purchased the necessary equipment required for the project. Further to that, Mr Maokeng said they are expecting a delegation from Namibia to come and train more locals on how to operate the machinery before the end of this month.
Mr Maokeng said they plan to kick-start the wood-processing project at the beginning of next month, as they realise that there is a high demand for charcoal.
“We want to start production next month, as we have plenty of raw materials; hence it is easy to start.”- Maokeng
The Trust is looking to provide the local market as well as Namibia. Besides wood- processing, the trust seeks to engage in other ventures including aquaculture projects, which they plan to have started by end of next year. Other projects the trust plans to start, he said, include the fish value chain, adding that as a community trust based in a non-core tourism area, it is critical for them to engage in activities and industries that are guaranteed money-spinners that will sustain the communities.
The trust has identified eco-tourism as another potential long-term revenue earner. Key projects to be undertaken in this area, he explained, would include avi-tourism, the Lake Ngami Challenge and Game ranch development.
Mr Maokeng said the lake has huge potential for avi-tourism, and would mean the development of campsites in time to receive guests as early as the start of the next season. Furthermore, he said they are in the process of buying a motorboat, which they expect to have received within the next two months to start offering boat rides on the lake.
The trust has been allocated a farm within the Hainaveld ranches and game ranching was identified as the principal activity to be undertaken in the area.
Once operational, tourism packages to be offered by the project would include bed and breakfast style accommodation, game drives, horseback safaris, walking trails, camping and cultural activities by local communities. The trust also seeks to organise the Lake Ngami Challenge modelled on the popular Khawa Dune Challenge and the Makgadikgadi epic annual events. The trust also hopes to host feature water sporting, a fish festival, sport fishing as well as motor quads/bike races around the lake, with pit stops at selected scenic points along the route on an annual basis.
Mr Maokeng said they are hoping to complete the Management Plan and Environmental Impact Assessment by the end of the year, which would pave the way for the development of a farm by the beginning of next year. Overall, the project is expected to be operational within 12-18 months.