There is a role for SEZs to play in the country’s post-pandemic recovery, however, this will require changes to certain approaches, speakers indicated during a ‘Growing Industrial Development Zones and SEZs’ panel discussion, as part of day two of the Manufacturing Indaba on June 22.
Coega Development Corporation investment promotion manager Vuyokazi Gwabeni emphasised that, despite the challenges and impacts of the pandemic, the world was now moving towards a more environmentally conscious, sustainable approach, and that, for SEZs to contribute meaningfully to the country’s post-pandemic recovery, they must align to this as well.
Moreover, she noted that, with the digitalisation push, SEZs also needed to facilitate investment in this space.
Further, the SEZs must be linked to the green economy, she emphasised.
She stressed that SEZs needed to shift as the world does, towards a new, digital economy, which required infrastructure that was sustainable, environmentally conscious and resilient.
Industrial Development Corporation SEZs head Lionel October called for the National Treasury to overcome fiscal conservatism, and to provide further finance for infrastructure – with this being the biggest issue to fix at the moment.
National Cleaner Production Centre-South Africa director Ndivhuho Raphulu said that, once infrastructure was in place, it was imperative that political issues be addressed, so that foreign direct investors were assured that they were investing in a politically sound country.
He also said there was a need to review incentives, to ensure they enabled the country to compete on a global level.
Gwabeni also emphasised that SEZs existed within an ecosystem and, therefore, integration must be spurred up post-pandemic.
She pointed out that some issues being experienced include investors moving from one area to the next, and this could potentially be mitigated by finding out the reasons and using these to improve elements in the areas, with assistance that SEZs could also provide.