‘SMEs key point to suc­ceed in Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Business Chronicle - Oliver Kazunga

ZIM­BABWE should pri­ori­tise Small to Medium En­ter­prises (SMEs) as the sec­tor is key to the suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion of Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones, an of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day.

Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones (SEZs) are des­ig­nated ge­o­graph­i­cal re­gions that op­er­ate un­der spe­cial eco­nomic reg­u­la­tions that are dif­fer­ent from other ar­eas in the same coun­try.

The con­cept is meant to of­fer spe­cial con­di­tions and in­cen­tives to en­hance in­ter­na­tional com­pet­i­tive­ness as well as fos­ter­ing in­dus­trial growth and de­vel­op­ment.

Par­lia­ment has ap­proved the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SEZs in order to re­ju­ve­nate the econ­omy.

In prepa­ra­tion for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of SEZs in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, the Gov­ern­ment, through the Min­istry of Eco­nomic Plan­ning and In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion, is run­ning two work­shops in Bulawayo and Harare with cap­tains of in­dus­try.

The first meet­ing was held in Bulawayo yes­ter­day while the sec­ond fo­rum will be held to­mor­row with an ex­pert on SEZs from Ja­pan, Pro­fes­sor Mo­toyoshi Suzuki, de­liv­er­ing lec­tures as well as shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences on the con­cept.

“SMEs is the key point to suc­ceed in SEZs and in Asian coun­tries where the ini­tia­tive has suc­ceeded, 99,7 per­cent of the com­pa­nies in SEZ re­gions are SMEs while 0,3 per­cent are big com­pa­nies. And as you im­ple­ment the SEZ con­cept here (Zim­babwe) you also need to con­sider SMEs.

“The key points on SEZ ap­pli­ca­tion isn’t to in­crease tax rev­enue but to in­crease for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in­flows,” he said.

Prof Suzuki said China, Ja­pan and Thai­land were some of the Asian coun­tries where the SEZs con­cept had suc­ceeded with SMEs play­ing a lead­ing role.

Re­spond­ing to ques­tions from the floor, he said it would not be ad­vis­able for a coun­try like Zim­babwe to con­sider the chem­i­cal in­dus­try un­der the SEZs.

“Chem­i­cal in­dus­tries re­quire ex­pen­sive in­fra­struc­ture to set up be­cause they pro­duce pol­lu­tion. The in­fra­struc­ture costs for chem­i­cal in­dus­tries are more ex­pen­sive to run than that for the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try,” Prof Suzuki said.

Speak­ing at the same oc­ca­sion, Trans-Lim­popo Spa­tial De­vel­op­ment Ini­tia­tive co-chair­per­son Mr Obert Sibanda said the Mata­bele­land re­gion has ev­ery­thing it takes to be clas­si­fied un­der the SEZs.

“In Mata­bele­land re­gion, we al­ready have a route that is set for the SEZ. We need to utilise our in­land dry port in Bulawayo while to the north in Vic­to­ria Falls and Binga that area can be clas­si­fied un­der the tourism SEZ.

“In Lu­pane, we’ve coal-bed meth­ane gas and coal re­serves and down in Mata­bele­land South we have Beit­bridge which was once an Ex­port Pro­cess­ing Zone,” he said.

Mr Sibanda said while Bulawayo was once the coun­try’s in­dus­trial hub, it should be noted that as the SEZ con­cept is im­ple­mented, some in­dus­tries that have closed down over the years can no longer be re­sus­ci­tated.

“We’ve in­dus­tries that have closed down in re­cent years and can no longer be re­sus­ci­tated. We need to ap­pre­ci­ate that there’re in­dus­tries that have been over­taken by events and those that we can turn­around are those that are fi­nan­cially dis­tressed,” said Mr Sibanda. — @okazunga

Stake­hold­ers fol­low pro­ceed­ings dur­ing the prepara­tory work­shop on de­vel­op­ment and op­er­a­tional­i­sa­tion of Spe­cial Eco­nomic Zones at a Bulawayo ho­tel yes­ter­day

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