Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Special Economic Zones Authority of Zimbabwe has started receiving applications from businesses seeking approval to operate in areas designated as Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
SEZ are designated geographical regions that operate under special economic regulations that are different from other areas in the same country. The model is meant to offer special conditions and incentives to enhance international competitiveness as well as bolstering industrial growth and development.
Addressing delegates during the Zimbabwe International Business Conference at the on-going Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo yesterday, Special Economic Zones Authority of Zimbabwe board member, Mr Busisa Moyo, said:
“SEZs will be an effective instrument in promoting industrialisation in Zimbabwe if correctly planned, resourced, built and operated.
“The kind of applications that we are receiving now are sort of export processing zones type of applications where somebody has got his own factory and wants it to be designated as a SEZ.
“So, we need to have a paradigm shift so that we create large SEZs that Zimbabwe needs.”
Bulawayo, Sunway City in Harare, Victoria Falls and Tokwe Mukorsi have been identified as pilot SEZs. Mr Moyo said for industrial development to be realised, it was important for the Government to foster political and macro-economic stability of the country as has been enunciated by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in his inaugural speech in November last year.
The Government, Mr Moyo said, also needs to establish the overall macro-economic rules and incentives for SEZs that were now awaiting approval to promote industrial development in the designated areas.
“We are looking forward to the approval of regulations and incentives for SEZs because the pressure we are receiving from both local and foreign investors has been overwhelming.
“And we want to rise to the occasion and demonstrate that it’s not a mantra, but a reality that Zimbabwe is indeed open for business,” he said.
Mr Moyo highlighted that the failure or success of SEZs in Zimbabwe was linked to policy and incentive framework put in place by Government and thus it was a responsibility of all stakeholders to play their different roles in supporting the building of the zones.
Mr Moyo said the SEZs were expected to leverage on Foreign Direct Investment and Public-Private Partnerships to achieving industrial development as well as boosting exports through value addition and beneficiation.
He said the exportation of raw materials without value addition and beneficiation was retrogressive to promoting economic development in the country and thus, it was high time Zimbabwe and Africa at large started exporting finished products.
The country has adopted the SEZs concept following lobbying by industry bodies and with a view to attracting increased investment on designated areas, which would offer special conditions and incentives to enhance international competitiveness as well as fostering industrial growth and development.