The Chief Executive Officer of Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) Thatayaone Ndzinge is adamant that while Francistown is experiencing some economic challenges, not all is lost for the second city.
Francistown is reeling through economic challenges following the closure of mines in its vicinity. The adversity has lead to increased unemployment, crime and poverty.
Responding to the Sunday Standard questions last week Ndzinge said SEZA is currently intensifying efforts with the private sector through Business Botswana, Local Authorities and the Ministry of Lands Water Management and Sanitation to resuscitate the city’s economy. SEZA declared Francistown as a Special Economic Zone for Mining and Logistics in 2013.
“Moreover land measuring 397 hectares has been identified around Francistown airport to accommodate this zone. The zone will include cargo facilities, warehouses, distribution centres for mining goods and services and a truck inn-centre,” he said.
Ndzinge said consequently, more business and job opportunities will be created and better infrastructure and improved quality of life will be realized. He explained that the SEZ reform promises streamlined business services for all qualifying foreign and domestic investors thus will see Francistown attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), grow its exports, increase tax earnings and improve its brand globally.
Asked on the achievements of the organization, Ndzinge said that a lot of behind the scene activities took place from the time the organization was institutionalized by the
SEZ Act which was passed by Parliament in 2015 to the time SEZA was operationalized in March/April 2017 to date.
“Some of the achievements include successful strategic location of SEZ in terms of section 29(3), SEZ Act of 2015. The location of SEZ shall target areas that provided comparative advantage for investors. Eight strategic locations were identified after a very detailed, robust and comprehensive feasibility studies. There was also some work done in analyzing value chains of different clusters that could be attracted to each zone, generating opportunities for significant SMME growth,” he explained.
He also said the organization has put in place requisite organizational and regulatory mechanisms; rules and regulations and incentives. He said all are already at an advanced stage of the approval process. Ndzinge further said as another achievement, they have completed the master planning of the SSKIA SEZ, a process which will be followed by serving the land and construction. He said other zones are at master planning level.
“The organization has also been market testing the Botswana SEZ value proposition and to date SEZA has built a healthy investor pipe line i.e. a number of investors are at various stages,” he added.
Touching on the challenges they are facing, he said the development of SEZs the world over involves a lot of stakeholders and this inherently breeds complexity in the rollout of SEZs. Ndzinge revealed that there is a delicate process of balancing the needs of the nation(FDI attraction, Export development) with the design and delivery of their SEZs as per best practice.
The Special Economic Zones Authority was established through an Act of Parliament in 2015. It operates as an authority through the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry. It is responsible for overall coordination and implementation of activities related to the establishment and development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs)
Other areas that were declared Special Economic Zones include among others, Pandamatenga(Cereal production, agro- processing, water management solutions), Selibe Phikwe(Metal beneficiation, agro-processsing, garments and textiles, Tuli Block( Horticulture, agro-processing, garments, water management solutions, Gaborone ÔÇô (International finance and technology and Lobatse(meat and leather beneficiation).