The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is planning to take up equity in the country’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs), says Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Fikile Majola.
Speaking at the start of a two-day national Special Economic Zones strategy and policy dialogue in Port Elizabeth, Majola said the DTI would no longer just be a regulator and adjudicator of the applications for SEZ licences, but an active participant.
DTI to take ownership of Special Economic Zones
The department will be involved in the planning, development and management of the zones, especially new ones and struggling zones.
“In addition, the dti will also take up equity or ownership in the SEZs in order to provide full support for implementation. This model is already being tested in Gauteng through the implementation of the proposed Tshwane Automotive SEZ. The proposed SEZ will be owned by the dti (33.3%), Gauteng [Provincial Government] (33.4%) and the [City of] Tshwane (33.3%),” he said on Tuesday.
SEZs are geographically designated areas of a country that are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities.
The Deputy Minister urged all government spheres, entities and agencies to work together in the implementation of the programme, in the spirit of the New District Development model.
Government has adopted the SEZ programme as a tool to create new industrial hubs in the country.
The Deputy Minister emphasised the importance of SEZs in stimulating industrialisation, investment and the creation of jobs.
Government is focused on regions and sectors that are capable of accelerating economic growth and development.
“We also see the SEZ programme as our tool to drive the revitalisation and expansion of industrial and historic towns, and the creation of new cities,” said Majola.
Review of the SEZ Programme
Majola said in order to achieve the objectives of the SEZ programme, concerted and collaborative efforts are required from all stakeholders, while a coherent plan is also critical for all stakeholders.
“As part of the collaborative efforts, we must use this platform to learn from the experiences of all South African SEZs, and to share ideas and engage in constructive dialogue on the challenges and opportunities confronting SEZs.
“Cabinet has already approved the new approach towards the SEZ programme, allowing national government to be actively involved in the planning and development of the zone,” said Majola.
The review of the SEZ Programme should take into consideration the international and national context.
“In this regard… we must explore the possibilities of establishing the cross-border SEZs in partnership with our neighbouring countries. We must also strengthen economic partnerships with other African countries through the SEZ programme. This will help us… to unlock the untapped expansion opportunities for South African companies,” Majola said.
The purpose of the dialogue, which concludes on Wednesday, 26 February, is to engage all SEZs and strategic partners on the SEZ Strategy and the implementation of the SEZ programme in the next 10 years.
Held at the Coega SEZ, the dialogue has brought together senior representatives of SEZs, as well as national, provincial and local government. –