THE Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZIMSEZA) has opened negotiations with the Chinese government and some multilateral finance institutions to facilitate funding for infrastructure development and construction of factory shells within SEZs.
Already four SEZs in Bulawayo, Mutare, Beitbridge and Victoria Falls are at an operational stage having been gazetted last year.
China is a distinguished financier of infrastructure development for SEZs.
The Asian giant is behind the construction of world renowned Bole Lemi Industrial Park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia which is one of the two industrial parks visited by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in February this year.
Now ZIMSEZA is courting Chinese financiers to kick start construction of infrastructure inside the designated areas.
ZIMSEZA chief executive Mr Edwin Kondo told The Sunday Mail that four SEZs are at an implementation stage.
“The Beitbridge, Mutare, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo Special Economic Zones are all at implementation stages and technical working groups (steering committees) for each zone have been set up with the intention to develop realistic and achievable implementation plans,” said Mr Kondo.
“These implementation plans will deal with; formation of special purpose vehicles to run each zone and establish the management structure of each zone; development of detailed master-plans and feasibility studies clearly showing the activities to be conducted in each zone and the potential viability of each zone.
“These plans will also show the investment that is required to make each zone functional and viable and lastly, engaging developers and development partners for the phased development of key utility infrastructure such as your roads, power and water; and also construction of superstructures such as factory shells.
“We are working closely with the Ministry of Finance (and Economic Development), Chinese Government and multi-lateral institutions to secure funding for infrastructure development and to identify potential developers for the gazetted zones. Progress on these engagements is very encouraging.”
ZIMSEZA has licensed 12 private companies with interests in various sectors to operate in the zones. The companies have interests in various sectors with cumulative investment portfolios worth US$1,7 billion.
The investments are projected to create 50 000 new jobs while generating exports of up to US$600 million a year.
Added Mr Kondo: “In light of the spirit of devolution we are in consultations with Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Midlands and Masvingo Provincial Affairs Ministers’ offices to identify potential areas for designation as special economic zones.
“This process will require the setting up of technical working groups for each provinces and the development of concept master-plans and pre-feasibility studies for each zone, thus enabling us to come up with a demand and financial analysis for each zone; clearly showing the investment that is required for each zone and the potential viability for the zones.
“It is key to note that special economic zones are long term in nature and do not have immediate results as there is a lot of work that has to be done at inception stage before a zone may become fully operational.”
Six geographic areas have since been designated as special economic zones and are all at different stages of operationalisation.
Victoria Falls has been designated a tourism and financial hub while Bulawayo’s Umvumela as well as the Belmont, Kelvin and Donnington corridor has the industrial hub status.
Beitbridge is designated regional logistics hub, with Sunway City in Harare now a Hi-tech park while Fenhill area in Mutare is a dry port special economic zone.