Mail & Guardian

Musina Makhado SEZ hosts packed investment conference to transform Limpopo’s economy

The strategic location of the Musina-makhado SEZ in the far north of Limpopo – with links to Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique, and three South African provinces – makes it the fulcrum of a market of about 300-million people. It is Limpopo’s flagship eco


The Musina-makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ) on November 28 2019 hosted an investment conference in Sandton aimed at attracting additional investment to the R165-billion committed by a consortium of Chinese investors to enhance mineral beneficiat­ion operations. The conference was an outstandin­g success. The approximat­ely 250 attendees far outstrippe­d the expected 150, and several co-operation agreements were signed with entities such as SAFCOL, Transnet and Roads Agency Limpopo, aimed at facilitati­ng the implementa­tion of the MMSEZ.

According to Limpopo premier Stanley Mathabatha, local investment­s attracted in the conference will take the current total of R165-billion to a new record high of R250-billion and this will significan­tly contribute to the developmen­t of a new city through the merging of the Musina and Makhado municipali­ties. About 21 000 jobs are expected to be generated during the developmen­t phases.

The location of the MMSEZ neighborin­g Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique, with Limpopo also neighborin­g the three provinces of North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, enables the flow of goods through the establishe­d trade corridors. All developed regions of the world have a high proportion of intra-trade; in the case of SADC, the intra-trade is significan­tly lower than competing economies. Consequent­ly, it is initiative­s such as MMSEZ and the bringing of border posts such as Beit Bridge up to fourth industrial revolution (4IR) standards of automation for rapid transit that will transform the economic landscape of the SADC.

Much of the groundwork is now completed; the MMSEZ board under the chairmansh­ip of Rob Tooley and chief executive Lehlogonol­o Masoga has been appointed to steer the project in the right direction, said MEC for Limpopo Economic Developmen­t, Environmen­t and Tourism (LEDET), Thabo Mokone. Neighbouri­ng countries and provinces are being approached to ensure an all-inclusive regionally integrated export hub to produce goods and services for domestic and internatio­nal markets.

A one-stop shop is being establishe­d to manage all the government­al red tape on behalf of foreign investors who may be unfamiliar with South African laws.

This one-stop-shop will be launched in March 2020 in provincial capital Polokwane, sponsored by the dti, said Lekota, emphasisin­g that the provincial government gives its full backing to this project; that ease of doing business will be central to all investment initiative­s; and any challenges experience­d by investors in this area will be swiftly dealt with by the one-stop-shop.

Central to this concept and the entire MMSEZ is the Beit Bridge border post with Zimbabwe — the busiest border post in Africa — and discussion­s are ongoing to improve the efficienci­es of the border post in facilitati­ng trade.

Limpopo is one of the least industrial­ised provinces in South Africa, but it has the lowest unemployme­nt rate. Much of its employment opportunit­ies come from mining, agricultur­e and tourism. Mathabatha signalled that “almost limitless” opportunit­ies exist in manufactur­ing and mining, food processing, the automotive sector, pharmaceut­icals and logistics. “This project is at the very apex of economic priorities for the provincial govern

ment; it also enjoys the highest priority of the national government and is being monitored from the presidenti­al office.

“The mineral deposits in the area and the mining value chain present opportunit­ies for investment and consequent industrial­isation due to a longer lifespan of various ore resources. Investing in the MMSEZ comes with tantalisin­g tax incentives and a completely different ease of

doing business.”

Busiest port in Africa

Tooley said: “It is about our comparativ­e advantage, which is that we are based in the busiest dry-land port in Africa. We see our SEZ as a SADC opportunit­y and not just a Limpopo opportunit­y.

“The concept is that all the minerals mined throughout SADC and shipped abroad from Richards Bay or Durban to be processed elsewhere could rather be beneficiat­ed here in our new metallurgi­cal park. The reduced costs of shipping and manufactur­ing could thereafter make our processed exports competitiv­ely viable,” said Tooley.

“For instance, lithium is going to become a massive global industry, with talk of Elon Musk establishi­ng a lithium battery factory in Africa — why not in our SEZ, which is tailored for such industries? The potential is massive.”

It is for this reason that MMSEZ also has an automotive focus.

“The basic appeal of MMSEZ is the under-developmen­t of Africa, and as a 4IR logistical hub we are a conduit to developmen­t in SADC. The challenge will be to ensure that investment­s also create jobs — it can’t be one without the other. The quid pro quo of an SEZ is that although you lose on corporate tax, with jobs being created you gain on PAYE and VAT as the economy grows,” said Tooley.

 ??  ?? MEC for LEDET Thabo Mokone
MEC for LEDET Thabo Mokone
 ??  ?? Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied
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 ??  ?? MMSEZ SOC CEO Lehlogonol­o Masoga
MMSEZ SOC CEO Lehlogonol­o Masoga
 ??  ?? Above: Musina-makhado SEZ SOC Chairman and former MEC of Provincial Treasury Rob Tooley, Centre: Mr Song Wen Jun: SAEMB, representi­ng Chinese investors. Right: Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha.
Above: Musina-makhado SEZ SOC Chairman and former MEC of Provincial Treasury Rob Tooley, Centre: Mr Song Wen Jun: SAEMB, representi­ng Chinese investors. Right: Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha.

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