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Who benefits? Commodification of wildlife and the geographical transfer of value in the tou- rism GPN in Namibia

Authors: Linus Kalvelage*, University of Cologne, Javier Revilla Diez, University of Cologne
Topics: Development, Africa
Keywords: GPN, tourism, gateway city, CBNRM, conservation
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

The positionality of cities in global production networks has a major influence on regional development in resource peripheries. In extractive industries, actors in gateway cities mediate in strategic coupling processes between resources and lead firms. While the periphery provides the labour and the resources, gateway cities have the knowledge and the capital necessary for value creation due to global linkages. This interdependence leads to a continuous geographical transfer of value. Due to agglomeration advantages, gateway cities have a filtering effect and are thus able to capture the gains. However, without the capacity of gateway cities to translate global market needs into a local context, resources in the peripheries remain untapped. In the case of the safari and hunting tourism GPN in Namibia, commodification of the wild led to the emergence of a new development pathway in peripheral regions. By giving wildlife a market value, peripheral regions like Zambezi were able to couple to the tourism GPN. However, the desired economic development induced by this industry did not unfold. This paper argues that in the tourism GPN the capacity to transform natural resources into a commodity is a crucial factor for the process of value transfer, but this capacity is to be found in Windhoek. Hence, uneven development between Windhoek and Zambezi, the resource region, can be observed. Research is based on a mixed-methods approach, which includes a business survey among tourism companies and hunting operators, qualitative interviews with GPN actors and the analysis of financial data.

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