Special economic zones to attract investors

by Rudo Saungweme

Special economic zones is the way to go in order to boost exports, increase foreign direct investments, create new jobs and facilitate overall economic development.

A special economic zone is an area in which business and trade laws are different from the rest of the country. Some Special Economic Zones are located within a country`s national borders, and their aims include; increased investment, job creation and effective administration.

According to Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), Zimbabwe`s Special Economic Zones are being established to fulfil the following objectives: to restore the economy`s capacity to produce goods and services competitively, to create economies of scale good enough for the locator of the proposed Special Economic Zones to be internationally competitive, to ensure inclusive growth emanating from the spread of growth nodes and diversified provincial offerings, to maximise the economic benefits of a given geographical location  and its stakeholders and also to attract more investment from the international world.

Zimbabwe gazetted regulations for designing the Special Economic Zones. The regulations are in line with Statutory Instrument 154 of 2018 released on 24 August 2018. It includes provisions such as granting a permit to an operator, declaration of the special economic zones, investors licence fee structures, operational systems, administrative structures and developer permits.

Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority Chief Executive Officer Edwin Kondo said, “Indeed it is true that the zones laws have been gazetted and we are happy about the latest developments which will go a long way in the recovery of our economy in the short to long term.”

In terms of the statutory instrument, the fee for developers permit shall be US$3 000 per year, operator’s licence US3 000 per annum and investors licence shall be US1 000 per year.

President Mnangagwa is engaging and re-engaging the international community by prioritising economics ahead of politics. So this development of gazetting the Special Economic Zones will go a long way in improving Zimbabwean economy.

Zimbabwe has already established a number of SEZs with pilot projects in Bulawayo, Sunway City in Harare and the Victoria Falls as well as diamond cutting and polishing in Mutare. The zones are managed by the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (Zimseza), which was established by the government. President Mnangagwa addressing a rally in Mutare said that Manicaland would fall under SEZs for the purposes of exportation of goods to Beira from Mutare. He said, “In our economic plans, Manicaland will be granted a status of Special Economic Zone for the purpose of exportation of our commodities from this area to port of Beira.”

According to economists, SEZs are more successful in national economies with adequate infrastructure, in particular, transport and energy infrastructure. The SEZ are also being created to restore the economy`s capacity to produce goods and services competitively.

The government has to play a significant role to attract the needed investment and broader development envisaged by these zones. Given the great complexity and potential dangers of zone programmes, strong and long-term government commitment is needed to ensure policy continuity and the adequate provision of necessary infrastructure.