The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) is conducting feasibility studies on the viability of designated Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country as it seeks to make them ready for investment, it has been established.
Three years ago, the government gazetted a Statutory Instrument 154 of 2018, granting SEZ status to Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Sunway City in Harare, Beitbridge, Norton and Mutare. It has licensed 18 companies as SEZs investors.
The designated zones are all at preliminary development stages where they are undertaking feasibility studies for their zones.
Government is pinning hopes on the SEZs concept to help Zimbabwe attract the much-needed foreign direct investment, create jobs and increase exports.
The creation of SEZs is also seen as part of efforts to restore the country’s capacity to produce goods competitively.
Apparently, about 83% of the licensed investors are fully operational while the remainder is still at preparatory stages.
“In an effort to make our zones ready for investment we have embarked on conducting both economic and infrastructure feasibility studies on all our designated zones,” ZIDA CEO Doug Munatsi said in an emailed response to enquiries by Business Times.
He added: “(This is) to ensure that our investors occupy fully developed zones with all the requisite on and off-site base infrastructure such as power, water, ICT among others thus ensuring a plug and play zone for the investor.”
Munatsi also said there has been a fair interest from foreign investors in special economic zones, within the Belmont corridor, Masuwe and Sunway City.
He said the investment required to develop all the approved SEZs in the country, would be known after completion of the feasibility studies for the zones which studies will also propose viable financing models for the same.
“For all designated zones we have directed the developers to immediately conduct feasibility studies for development of basic utility infrastructure for their zones coupled with the economic feasibility studies to establish viable potential businesses that may be conducted within the zone,” Munatsi said.
As for future zones, Munatsi said ZIDA will only designate a new zone upon receipt of satisfactory and viable economic and infrastructure feasibility study with a clearly laid financing model.
Companies that operate in SEZs are entitled to several fiscal incentives including lower taxation.
They also enjoy low electricity and water tariffs with a view to position the entities to be highly productive and competent.
The incentives enhance the projects’ viability.