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Botswana Guide Association’s (BOGA) founding chairperson, Kenson Kgaga who last year resigned after 24-year-old of service to the association left a reasonably satisfied man having seen the association succeed in driving citizens into the tourism industry since its inception in 1999.
Kgaga, one of the tourism pioneers, resigned from his position in May last year under a cloud, something which is expected to be addressed at association’s scheduled special general meeting next month where issues surrounding his resignation are expected to take centre stage.
Kgaga could also not entertain further questioning as to why he resigned for the association, save to say that the main objective of forming BOGA many years back was to see Batswana participating directly in the tourism industry instead of taking a backbench while foreigners were at the forefront.
He takes pride that BOGA was able to promote the development of locally based tour and safari industry and also create job opportunities for the local people. Furthermore, the association also lobbied for citizen appointment in positions of management in lodges and camps operating in the Okavango Delta.
“What I was fighting for was to see Batswana at the forefront of the tourism industry and I believe I have partly achieved my objective, because we can now see a number of them are owning and running mobile safari companies and lodges in the Okavango delta,” Kgaga said.
Kgaga indicated that when he formed the association, government departments misunderstood his objectives, thinking that his intension was to chase away all foreigners from the industry. It is this misconception that Kgaga says made it difficult for the association to stand from the ground.
“Starting the association with no funding was also a problem, some of the people we started with left along the way but I was patient enough because I knew what I was doing,” Kgaga said.
Furthermore, the 78-year-old who is the first Motswana to operate a mobile Safari Company explained that as a politician he also had a challenge, as most people then tried to politicise the association.
However, Kgaga said he ensured not to mix the association with politics as it would have not fully served its purpose. He has since pleaded with the upcoming board chairperson to do the same and not associate the association with politics.
Meanwhile, though the association has a number of unsolved issues with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism such as poor states of roads in National Parks across the country, Kgaga noted that they had created a strong working relationship with the latter to both serve communities.
He highlighted that following the revised Guides Licensing in 2016 a number of indigenous guides were left behind and unable to practice but through BOGA they were able to negotiate with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DNWP) for them to be issued with special licenses.