BCC mulls partnering SEZs Africa

BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is contemplating a partnership with the Special Economic Zones of Africa (SEZs Africa) to develop selected industrial zones.

BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) is contemplating a partnership with the Special Economic Zones of Africa (SEZs Africa) to develop selected industrial zones.

Town clerk Christopher Dube recently expressed concern that the implementation of the Bulawayo SEZs programme is progressing at a snail’s pace and the local authority has since set up a technical working group (TWG) to speed up the prorgamme.

“The SEZs TWG was able to submit to Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (Zimseza) maps showing areas earmarked for SEZs. The industrial areas included the former export processing zone site Umvumila, Belmont, Donnington and Kelvin industrial areas,” latest council minutes have indicated.

“The SEZs TWG also managed to identify and rank possible sectors to be included in the SEZs based on Bulawayo’s comparative advantage and historical background as the industrial hub of the nation. The schedule of selected sectors was submitted to Zimseza for consideration.”

A survey on available space was conducted in the Belmont industrial area and a GPS map of the surveyed area indicating the usage of the space in the Belmont area was also produced.

A report was then produced containing an analysis of the percentage utilisation of the space in the Belmont area.

"This report provided a guide on the industries that could be approached in establishing the SEZ. The SEZs TWG had also recommended to SEZ Authority to consider a combination of two SEZ models for Bulawayo that was sector specific for the Kelvin/Donnington/Belmont Corridor and area specific for the Umvumila site.

“On August 17, 2018, the SEZ Authority gazetted the SEZ (General) Regulations. The statutory instrument allowed the authority to designate areas earmarked for SEZ and manage the zones. In addition, on August 31, 2018, SEZ Authority in terms of section 20 of the SEZ Act [Chapter 14:34] declared certain industrial areas in Bulawayo to be SEZ with effect from August 24, 2018.

“A feasibility study for the Umvumila SEZ area would unpack the economic comparative advantages of investing in that site. Once a feasibility study had been done, the city council together with Zimseza would use the feasibility study report as a working document to attract potential investors or developers into the special economic zone,” the minutes read.

The council noted that SEZ Africa was a registered socio-economic development company based in South Africa, which approached BCC to assist in the implementation of the SEZ programme.

The minutes also noted that SEZ Africa offered services such as pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies, and business plans for SEZ projects.

“To this end, SEZ Africa was desirous to develop and sign an MoU [memorandum of understanding] with the City of Bulawayo. The purpose of this MoU is to clarify the expectations, roles and responsibilities of the collaboration between the two organisations,” the minutes added.

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