Beitbridge to fully utilise SEZ status
Beitbridge (New Ziana) -The Beitbridge Town Council says it is working on a number of initiatives to make full use its Special Economic Zone status which it was granted to facilitate its development into a logistics and free trade hub.
The government in 2018 declared the border town a SEZ as it sought to increase economic activities and foreign exchange inflows under the “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” mantra.
Three other cities were granted the SEZ status namely Victoria Falls which was mandated with tourism, Mutare concentrating in horticulture and Bulawayo focusing on the manufacturing sector.
A Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is a geographical region that has economic and other laws that are more free-market-oriented than a country’s typical or national laws.
The category of SEZ includes Free Trade Zones (FTZ), Export Processing Zones (EPZ), Free Zones (FZ), Industrial parks or Industrial Estates (IE), Free Ports, Urban Enterprise Zones and others.
Usually the goal of a structure is to increase foreign direct investment by foreign investors, typically an international business or a multinational corporation.
Beitbridge Town Clerk, Loud Ramakgapola said so far the local authority had reserved a total of 282.8 hectares for SEZ related projects.
He said they were employing a number of measures including wooing investors to take advantage of the vast economic opportunities in the town.
Beitbridge is located near the Zimbabwe-South Africa border and before the Covid-19 lockdown, at least 15 000 travelers, 200 buses, 3 500 light vehicles and 1 000 commercial trucks passed through it daily en-route to other countries in the region.
“The Municipality has partnered with the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZIMSEZA) to turn around economic fortunes in this town,” said Ramakgapola.
“This development was long overdue and is a boost to our transformation drive, considering that we have covered a lot of ground on infrastructure development,” he added.
Ramakgapola said the town had a number of investment opportunities including the construction of an international airport, glass manufacturing, citrus fruits processing, bonded warehouse construction, coal, gold and diamond mining and processing.
He said other projects under the SEZ concept include automotive, agro-processing, aquaculture, energy (solar harvesting) metal logistics, business process services, mineral value addition (diamond cutting), recycling and manufacturing as well as drugs and pharmaceuticals.
Besides its proximity to South Africa, Beitbridge has a good railway and road network, bulk water supply, sewer reticulation, and solid waste management which are ideal for a number of economic ventures.
The town is home to over 70 000 people with most of the businesses anchored on customs and freight forwarding and other cross-border related activities.