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HomenewsSA consultants for Umvumila SEZ

SA consultants for Umvumila SEZ

The Chronicle

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Acting Business Editor

IN a bid to upscale its investment drive by leveraging on its resources, Bulawayo City Council has roped in an independent South African firm consultancy to undertake a pre-feasibility study in Umvumila area to establish key deliverables to be used in coming up with a Special Economic Zone Master Plan for the site.

THE Bulawayo City Council

The city is one of the areas that the Government designated for the development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) with a view to restoring the city to its former glory as Zimbabwe’s industrial hub. In Umvumila, the SEZ concept will be under an area-specific model while the Belmont Industrial Site would be under a sector-specific model.

SEZs are designated geographical regions that operate under special economic regulations that are different from other areas in the same country.

The initiative is meant to offer special conditions and incentives to enhance international competitiveness as well as bolstering industrial growth and development.

The local authority acknowledges that the process of implementing the SEZs programme in the city had been progressing at a slow pace, starting with the formation of a SEZs Technical Working Group (TWG).

Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube said the SEZs TWG was able to submit to the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZIMSEZA) maps showing areas earmarked for Special Economic Zones.

He said the key to the successful implementation of SEZs programme at Umvumila site was the development of a pre-feasibility study. A feasibility study for Umvumila SEZ area would unpack the economic comparative advantages of investing in that site.

Once a feasibility study has been done, the City Council together with ZIMSEZA would use the feasibility study report as a working document to attract potential investors or developers into the special economic zone, said Mr Dube.

“There were two options that could be used by the City Council in coming up with a feasibility study. Council could engage a consultant to do the job or use the internal skills.

“However, given the urgency of this matter and the fact that currently council had a skills gap challenge, Council resolved to engage services of an independent consultant to do a feasibility study at Umvumila site.

“Special Economic Zones of Africa (SEZ Africa) was a registered socio-economic development company based in South Africa which had approached the City to assist in the implementation of SEZ programme,” said Mr Dube.

According to the local authority, SEZ AFRICA offers services such as pre-feasibility studies, feasibility studies, and business plans for SEZ projects.

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The company is in the process of registering in Zimbabwe to ensure compliance with the country’s Companies Act, laws, and regulations.

“To this end, the SEZ Africa was desirous to develop and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Bulawayo. The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was to clarify the expectations, roles,  and responsibilities of the collaboration between the two organisations (Parties) on the City of Bulawayo (Special Economic Zone) Project.

“In  order to facilitate the development and finalisation of the MOU between the two cities, council authority was sought to allow a team of city council officials to visit South Africa and fully appreciate the Makhado-Musina SEZ project, which SEZ Africa was involved in its development,” said Mr Dube.

He said the visit to South Africa would provide the council with an opportunity to understand  the operations of SEZ Africa, and also visit the functioning Special Economic Zone, before finalisation and subsequent signing of the MOU.

Companies operating under the SEZs enjoy certain incentives such as tax holidays, among others.

Other cities and towns with designated areas for the establishment of SEZs are Victoria Falls, Harare, Mutare and Beitbridge.

It is hoped that the SEZs initiative will add impetus to the Government’s vision of transforming the country into an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.

In recent years, Zimbabwe has lagged behind in attracting much-needed foreign direct investment due to the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West following the successful implementation of the land reform programme in 2000.

The coming in of the new political dispensation under President Mnangagwa in November 2017, has ushered in a new era after the Government embarked on an international re- engagement programme.

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