According to reliable sources, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has recently announced its plan to invest up to $13 million in the Africa Conservation and Communities Tourism (ACCT) Fund. The investment aims to provide crucial support to ecotourism businesses operating in Southern and Eastern Africa, with a special focus on South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Botswana.
In addition to financial backing, the IFC will also offer non-commercial risk mitigation and capacity building to support the sector. As part of this initiative, they will collaborate with industry stakeholders to develop climate guidelines that will establish standards for the ecotourism sector.
The successful final close of the ACCT Fund, totaling $70 million, is the result of contributions from the IFC and other investors.
Sérgio Pimenta, IFC Vice President for Africa, highlighted the significance of the partnership, stating that by investing in the ACCT Fund, IFC aims to assist financially impacted ecotourism businesses in preserving jobs and contributing to the local economy.
Pimenta further added that the partnership aligns with IFC’s strategy to revitalize domestic and regional tourism markets and utilize diverse financial tools to support the development priorities of countries.
For the record, the ACCT Fund employs a blended finance model with three portions of capital: junior equity, senior equity funding, and grant funding. Its primary objective is to invest in hotels, safari camps, and lodges, providing critical support to overcome liquidity challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maarten Weehuizen, Managing Director of the ACCT Fund, expressed gratitude for the IFC's support. Weehuizen emphasized the vital role of tourism in the long-term preservation of African conservation landscapes, benefiting both local communities and wildlife.
According to IFC estimates, the ACCT Fund will generate a minimum contribution of $530 million to the economies of the invested regions. This economic boost will have indirect, direct, and induced effects on various sectors like retail, agriculture, recreation, and transportation, thus safeguarding approximately 21,200 full-time jobs.