ZIMBABWE Economic Policy Analysis and Research Unit (Zeparu) says Special Economic Zones (SEZ) could be key in reversing the country’s economic decline. However they say this can onlt be effective if complemented by the successful implementation of other pillars of the country’s development programme.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
Presenting its latest publication, the Zeparu Economic Barometer, in Harare yesterday the unit’s executive director, Gibson Chigumira said in the Zimbabwean context initiatives to reduce the burden, expanding and modernising infrastructure, improvement in public service delivery, conducive business environment and improvements in productivity would all facilitate the success of the proposed SEZ.
“Although Zimbabwe’s economy continues to face pressure from strong United States currency and falling commodity prices, diligent development of special economic zones could help boost growth,” he said.
Chigumira said a key lesson drawn from the international experience was that SEZ were not a panacea to solving all economic challenges, but instead they catalysed deeper economic reforms and become a major engine for national development through backward and forward linkages with the rest of the domestic economy.
“In this regard they need to be complemented by the implementation of other policy initiatives and strategies outlined in the country’s development programme ZimAsset,” he said.
Zeparu said, more research and dialogue was required to inform policy decisions and implementation strategies to ensure SEZ have a transformational impact in Zimbabwe.
According to the report, about 4 300 SEZ in over 130 countries are operational globally of which 114 economic zones were established in 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Zimbabwe, cabinet has approved the SEZ Bill and areas earmarked for SEZ have been identified.
Zeparu, however, said the concept of SEZs and their impact on economic growth was gaining more and more acceptance globally.
“The aim of SEZ is to stimulate economic development by attracting local and foreign direct investment (FDI), enhancing competitiveness and facilitate export-led growth. These then lead to increased government revenues to improved technology transfer and innovation,” Zeparu said.