Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Bulawayo Special Economic Zones (SEZs) technical working group says the city is ready to operationalise the specialised economic model based on the ground work that has been done.
Officials from the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZimSEZA) board and executive led by chairman, Dr Gideon Gono, and the chief executive officer, Mr Edwin Kondo, were in Bulawayo for a four-day visit in Bulawayo to engage different stakeholders ahead of implementation of the SEZs model.
The Bulawayo SEZs technical working group also met on Tuesday to further look into critical issues. The group’s deputy chair, Mr Kholisani Moyo, who is also the city’s economic development officer, said systems were being put in place.
“Following a recent strategic workshop, the SEZs authority received the report from the Bulawayo technical working group and they have gone through the report. Now they are moving to the second stage where they will be meeting the technical group and see how best they can operationalise SEZs and their target is that by end of July they should be serious activity in terms of implementation of SEZs in Bulawayo,” he said.
The authority’s leadership is expected back in Bulawayo next Monday to meet the technical working group to further discuss on the city’s SEZs implementation matrix.
“When they come they will be briefed on the progress made so far towards the implementation of the SEZs in Bulawayo so that we are on the same wave length.
“Together with the SEZs leadership we are putting everything together so that we now share our experiences to say this is how we want the SEZs to be implemented in Bulawayo. As a technical committee, we will also understand from the authority how they want to have the SEZs implemented in terms of their thinking so that we move together,” said Mr Moyo.
“We want to make sure that by end of July there will be serious activity in terms of implementation.”
The Bulawayo SEZs technical working group has already recommended a schedule of industrial sector rankings for implementation consideration by ZimSEZA.
Mining and engineering, beef, leather, textile and clothing value chains top the ranking list as sectors with highest potential to revitalise industries.
The local working group has identified 15 sectors, which need to be supported to stimulate the city and the country’s economic growth. These include education, innovation and research hub, pharmaceuticals and healthcare sector, transport and logistics (mainly as an enabler), engineering (with focus on steel and foundry as an enabler), rubber and plastics, printing and packaging, tourism and hospitality (focusing on Bulawayo’s MICE — Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions).
Initially, Bulawayo had been designated as the beef and leather value chain and textiles and clothing SEZ.
Due to the economic challenges Zimbabwe experienced over the years, Bulawayo has seen a great decline in manufacturing capacity with many companies closing or relocating to other towns, especially the capital, Harare. — @okazunga.