The Sunday News

Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter

THE country has started reaping benefits from its policy of establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as it forges ahead to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in its bid to turn around the economy, an official has said.

Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZimSeza) chief executive officer Mr Edwin Kondo said the country has started realising the benefits from some of the SEZ licences and expressed optimism of improved contribution to the country’s economy.

“Due to the licensing of Vislink Investments (Pvt) Ltd, citizens have been receiving specialised treatment in the country, thereby saving a lot of foreign currency. Afrochine has resurfaced about five kilometres from the main road to the nearby community setup. Varun Beverages Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd donated some cooler boxes to some women groups. All the licensees made donations towards Cyclone Idai victims. More is expected in the coming year as some licensees move from the construction stage to the production stage,” he said.

Mr Kondo added that the authority has been engaging neighbouring countries for benchmarking tours having recently hosted a delegation from South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry to discuss strategies on how to expand trade and investment for the two countries. 

“This visit (by South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry) came at an opportune time when the two countries are working towards industrialising their economies. The discussion centred mainly on the development of the Harare-Beitbridge-Musina-Makhado SEZ Corridor, for the purposes of developing the value chains in key sectors, including mining, energy, logistics among others, underpinned by availability of vast resources within the proposed corridor. The resources include minerals (chrome, lithium, manganese, coal and rare earth minerals) and water (Limpopo River),” he said.

Mr Kondo said as a follow-up to the visit a delegation led by Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba visited South Africa on a benchmarking tour as well as to strengthen the call to promote the development and economic integration between Zimbabwe and her neighbour.

South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa that have embarked on the SEZ programme having started in 1997, to date they have designated 10 zones of which only one is fully operational.

“In a related mission to strengthen the call to promote the development and economic integration between Zimbabwe and South Africa, a Zimbabwean delegation led by the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Manicaland, Dr Gwaradzima visited Coega Development Corporation (CDC) on a benchmarking exercise from the 18th to the 19th of November. The CDC has committed to extend its expertise to Zimbabwe by assisting with the establishment and operationalisation of a SEZ and dry port in the Manicaland Province,” he said. 

The visit culminated into the development of a draft Memorandum of Agreement between CDC and Manicaland Province in areas of co-operation such as Manicaland SEZ and dry port spatial planning, infrastructure development, operations and maintenance. Funding and transactional advisory services as trade and investment attraction into the provincial SEZs including Fernhill and other potential SEZs such as Honde Valley Agricultural Hub among others.

The CDC is a State-owned company mandated to develop and operate the 9 003-hectare industrial land of the Coega SEZ.

To date ZimSeza has designated six areas as public SEZs namely Belmont-Kelvin-Donnington-Westondale Corridor in Bulawayo, Imvumila (Bulawayo), Masuwe (Victoria Falls), Sunway City Pvt Ltd (Harare), Beitbridge (Beitbridge) and Fernhill (Mutare). 

It has also licensed nine private SEZs namely Trade Kings Zimbabwe (manufacturing), Ecosoft (agro-processing), Afrochine (mining), Karo Resources (mining), Nkonyeni Agricultural Hub (agro-processing), Varun Beverages Zimbabwe (manufacturing), Prospect Lithium (mining), Lentsloane (multi-sectoral) and Vislink Investment Pvt Ltd. 

The authority has further licensed three investors into two public zones and these are food processing firm Davipel Trading at Sunway City Pvt Ltd, Shepco BMA Fasteners Pvt Ltd and Chingasses Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd both in Belmont-Kelvin-Donnington-Westondale Corridor.

Mr Kondo said the six public zones are at various stages of operationalisation with each Technical Working Group undertaking various activities in order to ensure the successful implementation of their zones.

Technical Working Groups are groups of stakeholders that are critical in the operationalisation of the zones.

“Two out of the six zones have already flighted their Expressions of Interest and are now at the adjudication stage. This process will lead to the formation of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for each zone, which will ultimately lead to the development of the detailed Masterplans and Feasibility studies, thus paving way for the development of key infrastructure in each of the Zones. 

“It is important to note that of the six Special Economic Zones designated by ZimSeza, four are Greenfield projects. The Belmont- Kelvin- Donnington SEZ Corridor is a mixture of brownfield and Greenfield projects. The aim of designating such a zone is to revive the idle factories in Bulawayo. Bulawayo factories can now make use of the SEZ status to lure investors to partner with them,” said Mr Kondo.

The authority recently licensed about 19 000 hectares of land belonging to Karo Resources, in Selous, as a SEZ. 

“Furthermore, the authority is working towards the expansion of that (Karo Resources) zone to include other projects. Another private zone located in Selous is Afrochine Smelting (Pvt) Ltd, which is into the smelting of chrome,” said Mr Kondo.