The Sunday News
Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZimSeza) is overwhelmed by foreign investors seeking to invest in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) signalling the newly found confidence in the country as an investment destination of choice.
ZimSeza chief executive officer Mr Edwin Kondo said the authority has received over 50 inquiries of foreign firms seeking to invest in the country’s SEZs.
“We have received over 50 inquiries and we continue to receive five or more new foreign investors daily coming to make serious inquiries about investing in Zimbabwe, particularly in SEZs,” he said.
To date ZimSeza has successfully designated 12 private sector firms as SEZs around the country. Of these, seven are already in production and the other five are at various stages of implementation.
“We have also received numerous applications for licensing that are currently under consideration,” said Mr Kondo.
He said the six zones that were designated as SEZs namely Beitbridge, Harare-Sunway City, Victoria Falls, Bulawayo-Umvumela/Belmont/Kelvin/Donnington corridor and Mutare are at various stages of development.
“It is important to understand that after designation of a zone there is need to develop a detailed feasibility study and master plan for the operations within that zone. This takes up to 30 months to complete, after which construction of utilities takes centre stage up to two years. Superstructures would require another 48 months or so. Most of the SEZs have done feasibility studies and are ready to engage developers to put up the superstructures and undertake on-site servicing,” Mr Kondo said.
He said it was of paramount importance to note that SEZs were long-term projects.
“SEZs are long-term in nature. In China they embarked on the SEZ programme in 1978 and 40 years later they are reaping the rewards. South Africa also embarked on the SEZ programme in 1997, to date they have designated 10 zones of which only one is fully operational,” said Mr Kondo.
Bulawayo’s Umvumila, which proposes to develop an integrated industrial park close to the Joshua Mqabuko Airport, would be put under a Special Purpose Vehicle.
Partially serviced areas with plans for development are already in place although a detailed feasibility study is yet to be undertaken.
“The second SEZ for Bulawayo is Belmont/Kelvin and Donnington corridor. This is an already developed industrial area and to date ZimSeza has licensed three private sector companies within the zone as SEZ-licensed investors. These are Shepco BM Fastening Pvt Ltd, Colman Resources Pvt Ltd and Chingasses Zimbabwe Pvt Ltd and we are in receipt of several applications, which are under consideration,” said Mr Kondo.
Beitbridge SEZ is a multi-sectoral zone which is focusing on developing a logic hub and also an industrial park.
“In terms of implementation the (Beitbridge) SEZ had already done detailed costing of infrastructure (roads, water and sewer, rail, power and data). They are now developing funding models by engaging treasury and development partners. The SEZ is at an advanced stage of concluding formation of Special Purpose Vehicle for the day-to-day management of the zone. A detailed feasibility study and master plan is now being developed,” said Mr Kondo.
A concept master plan has been developed for Victoria Falls.
“Victoria Falls (Masuwe) SEZ is set to have a tourism hub and a financial hub. A concept master plan has now been developed, which enables costing requirements on base infrastructure to be worked on.
“Expression of interest for potential developers was flighted and some developers have been shortlisted for the project already. The SEZ is now seeking funding for the off-site infrastructure,” said Mr Kondo.
He further said in line with the Government’s strategic thrust of devolution to ensure equitable economic development of the country, ZimSeza was working with Ministers of State for Provincial Affairs to designate SEZs in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Midlands and Masvingo Provinces where zones are yet to be designated.