The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has been lauded as a strategic institution in Botswana’s journey towards economic transformation because it has the capacity to fast-track economic development, employment creation and export diversification.
“SEZs are a tried and tested economic acceleration tool that has been used by leading economies like South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, China and Mauritius to garner unprecedented rates of economic growth,” said Dichaba Molobe, Advocacy Director at Business Botswana.
His comments come in the wake of a sweeping rationalisation of ministerial and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that was announced by President Mokgweetsi Masisi last week. The exercise, which the President said was meant to enhance service delivery, included elimination of duplication and overlaps of portfolios through restructuring and merging of some SOEs.
Masisi also announced that the investment promotion activities of Botswana Investment and Trade Center (BITC), Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) and Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) will be incorporated into one entity. While some thought this meant that SEZA and BITC would be merged, pundits believe only the investment attraction role will be moved to BITC while the Authority will retain its mandate of establishing, developing, managing and regulating SEZs as set out in the SEZA Act of 2015.
SEZs are designated geographical areas that are governed by special administrative, regulatory and fiscal regimes which are different from those applicable in the rest of the domestic economy. SEZs and industrial clusters played a key role in the emergence of China as an economic superpower as they introduced new management strategies, economic reforms and new technologies. SEZs also contributed to China’s GDP, employment creation, export development and attraction of FDI.
After spending R2.5 billion to develop the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (TASEZ), South Africa was in 2021 able to attract a R16 billion investment by Ford Motor Company and another R4.3 billion from automotive components suppliers who will occupy the facility, in the process creating 6,000 jobs. TASEZ is one of South Africa’s 10 approved Special Economic Zones spread across seven provinces.
SEZA has completed the master planning of its key SEZs, which include Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA), Gaborone Fairgrounds, Lobatse and Francistown. This process will enable SEZA to guide and coordinate the future growth and development of these SEZs. Going forward, SEZA will continue with the masterplanning process at its remaining SEZs, which include Selebi- Phikwe, Palapye and Pandamatenga.
SEZA’s P100 million Boulevard 1 Project at the SSKIA-SEZ has also been completed. The deployed bulk physical infrastructure at the SEZ, including a 2km x 6-lane carriageway, a water and sewer network, storm water control, street lighting, duct works for power and telecommunications systems, CCTV and the SSKIA-SEZ monument.
In Pandamatenga, SEZA is constructing 12 modern steel grain silos with an overall storage capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes. The silos are being constructed in anticipation of increased agro-production and are expected to augment the limited capacity of the existing silos by increasing the overall storage capacity to 90,000MT.