Rwanda’s Akagera National Park is expected to break even in the next one year following tangible signs of increased revenues that will enable the park management to balance its annual costs of operations and revenues.
In 2010, the government of Rwanda and African Parks entered into a 20 year Public Private Partnership (PPP) forming the Akagera Management Company (AMC), which manages the park activities through biodiversity conservation, community development and park revenue generation activities.
With only seven years to the end of the management contract, which could be extended, the park’s net revenue from 2010 revenues have grown from $203,000 to $1.2million in 2016, $3.7million (2022) and despite a drop during COVID- 19 pandemic, revenues have started picking up in 2023 (with over $4.5million expected this year) and projected revenues expected to stay on the increase.
While the core operation costs (core opex) have increased from 1.5million to $3million in the same periods, they are expected to break even in 2025 according to the park’s financials which show projections of a drop in the opex to $3million as the revenues shot high.
“All revenue generated from tourism goes into Akagera’s running costs, reducing reliance on donor funding and simultaneously making the park more financially self-sustaining,” the AMC said.
Jean Paul Karinganire, the AMC Deputy Tourism and Marketing Manager said that there is hope that the expenses will be equal to the revenues by next year. We shall start making profits by 2025 according to the plan,” Karinganire said.
This hope, according to Karinganire, comes from the fact that tourists and tourism incomes have increased, tourism and enterprise diversified revenue streams from enterprises such as fisheries, and other revenue streams like coffee and gift shops, safari boat rides, air balloon flights, high end eco-friendly camp sites and lodges among others.
For instance, tourists visiting the park have more than doubled from over 15,000 (2010) to 41,000 (2022) with locals making up 45% and this year visitors are expected to reach over 50,000.
Also tourism incomes have increased to $3.5million (2022) from $2.5million in 2019 while fishing incomes increased from $91.726 to $163,103 in the same periods.
“If we keep these at the same momentum, there is a chance to break even,” Karinganire stated.
This increase in park incomes and conservation tourism activities has overflown to communities and attracted new hospitality businesses (four hotels) and to open outside the park which covers Kayonza, Gatsibo and Nyagatare districts.
Antonie Ahishakiye, the Manager of Akagera Transit Lodge which is two kilometers away from the park main entrance says that the more tourists increase the more incomes and sustaining the business.
“We opened two years ago and if there was no business here, we would have closed shop or moved out of the sector but the more visitors, the more incomes we earn,” Ahishakiye said.
As a result of the good tourism business, the Akagera Transit Lodge has put its focus on training young school graduates to join the tourism and hospitality sector and next they plan on 20-students in their third intake.