The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), in partnership with the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE), will on September 29 host a webinar on the role of special economic zones (SEZs) as drivers of economic growth and industrialisation.
Trade, Industry and Competition Deputy Minister Fikile Majola says the objective of the webinar is to stimulate discussions on the contribution of SEZs in the industrialisation of the South African economy in order to ensure sustainable economic growth.
CDE executive director Ann Bernstein says the CDE has partnered with the DTIC to host the event to build on their previous work on this important topic and to assess the impact of Covid-19 on the role that SEZs could play in contributing to the economic recovery the country so badly needs.
Majola explains that the webinar will provide government, potential investors and SEZ operators with an opportunity to discuss how SEZs – as drivers of economic growth and industrialisation – can be used as a bedrock for sustained job creation, enterprise development, innovation and technology, and skills development.
In addition, the webinar will assist in providing a guaranteed safe environment for investments. “It will also look at regional industrialisation benefits including ways to increase exports to neighbouring countries and the rest of the African region,” he says.
Majola also notes that SEZs have had a considerable impact on the emergence of new economic activities.
“SEZs play a critical role in accelerating industrialisation, increasing development and growth, attracting targeted foreign direct investments and domestic investments, growing and diversifying value-added exports and ultimately building a regionally diversified industrial economy.”
He also points out that the South African SEZ programme – which has, to date, designated 11 SEZs – continues to make a “meaningful contribution” to the country’s economy. The aggregate rand investment value of operational investments has increased to more than R17.7-billion (as of the end of the fourth quarter of the 2019/20 financial year) when compared to the previous year’s figure of R12-billion.
He also notes that the Covid-19 pandemic presents an opportunity for government and the sector to realise the potential of SEZs, adding that investors wanting to set up new manufacturing entities will find SEZs to be an attractive investment hub with good infrastructure.
“The recent amendments and rescue measures proposed by government will play a vital role in boosting investments in the SEZ sectors, particularly manufacturing and agroprocessing, generate greater employment and activate growth in local consumption and export volumes post Covid-19.
"The potential of South African SEZs has been nurtured by easing and streamlining its provisions and setting up of multi sector SEZs,” says Majola.