ZIMBABWE’S special economic zones will attract foreign investments worth $10 billion in the next 2 years, the newly appointed SEZ board chairman Dr Gideon Gono has said.
In an interview yesterday, the former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor said the SEZ Act provided “so much protection” to investors and this would help spur foreign investment.
Zimbabwe received $391 million worth of foreign investments last year, down from $421 million a year earlier.
“The Act gives so much protection to investors, which has never been given to anyone before,” said Dr Gono.
“The challenge therefore before the SEZ is to persuade investors to bring FDI.”
Dr Gono emphasised that licensed SEZ investors would be exempted from having to comply with laws such as the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, which requires foreign owned companies to hold not more than 49 percent stake in local businesses.
The Government has identified Sunway City in Ruwa, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls as designated SEZ locations to initially focus on.
“The board welcomes these locations but we are not going to be limited in our scope to these three places only,” said Dr Gono.
“Our playgrounds are all the 10 provinces of the country and districts, which offer comparative advantages in their respective areas of specialisation.
“We consider the creation of jobs inside SEZs, outside the zones through the supply chains, the generation of exports for foreign exchange earnings, import substitution and cut our import bill and all other Zim-Asset goals and Ten Point Plan as the anchor pillars to our efforts.”
Special Economic Zones are demarcated geographical areas within a country’s national boundaries where the regulation of firms’ activities and the dedicated policies are differentiated from those applied to companies outside the zone.
The zones will offer investors tax and administrative advantages. It is anticipated that the SEZs will help promote value addition and product beneficiation in line with Zim-Asset, the country’s medium term economic blue print as well as regional industrialisation initiatives.
Dr Gono said SEZs in Zimbabwe were coming against the backdrop of persistent negative performance across all sectors of the economy for a variety of reasons, save for agriculture this year and in other previous good rainy seasons.
He said the SEZs would trigger economic growth and development by stimulating local, foreign and diaspora investment, promote domestic competitiveness, as well as facilitate both import substitution and export-led growth driven by, among others, high-technology initiatives.
Dr Gono said the SEZs policy initiative was a broad-based and well-thought out Government economic development (revival and revitalisation) strategy under Zim-Asset, Zimbabwe’s blueprint and specifically, point 10 of President Mugabe’s 10-Point Plan, which speaks to the need for creation
and implementation of Special Economic Zones.