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L. Joseph
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JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, December 6, 2000 — South African National Parks (SANP) has signed seven contracts for concessions to establish eco-tourism lodges in its national parks.  The International Finance Corporation acted as lead adviser in establishing the public-private partnerships which will put SANP in a strong enough financial position to focus on protecting biodiversity.

SANP’s concessioning program aims to strike a balance between environmental, social, and commercial factors.  Only operators with proven eco-tourism experience and financial strength were pre-qualified to bid on specified concession sites, most of which are in the world-famous Kruger National Park.  SANP set stringent environmental protection standards, including bonds to cover potential environmental and other damages over the life of the contract.  Weighting was primarily on the stream of concession fee income that bidders would guarantee to SANP, but 20 percent of the evaluation was for innovation in furthering black economic empowerment, particularly in communities near the parks.

The successful bids will bring in revenue well above the minimum established by SANP, proving the high value of wilderness assets in the national parks.  The net present value of the 20-year stream of guaranteed income to SANP amounts to Rand 202 million (US$27 million).  Actual income is likely to be substantially above this guaranteed level.  The seven concessions will result in 316 new beds in the game lodge sector and capital investment of Rand 127 million ($17 million).

Mr. David Donaldson, acting manager of the joint IFC/World Bank Private Sector Advisory Services group, noted that three of the seven winners were black-controlled consortia and he said that the new concessions would bring important benefits to communities near the parks.  Mr. Mavuso Msimang, CEO of SANP, added that the design of the bidding process as well as its management and execution won considerable praise from the industry, with participants expressing satisfaction with the professional conduct of the bid process.

The mission of IFC, part of the World Bank Group, is to promote private sector investment in developing countries, which will reduce poverty and improve people's lives. It fosters economic growth by financing private sector investments, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses.


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