After decades of trying and failing to lure investors to Botswana through various state institutions, the new kid on the block, Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) is oozing with confidence that they are on the right track to turn things around.
Speaking at the media training workshop, SEZA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Thatayaone Ndzinge said that they have managed to identify 8 economic zones and already work has already kick started.
Ndzinge revealed that they will soon issue out major tenders for the zones and called on the media to scrutinize them to ensure that there is no corruption in awarding them thus weeding it out.
Director of Investment Attraction Joel Ramaphoi said that in choosing the economic zones, there was rigorous due diligence and very limited political influence.
Research has shown that special economic zones have not worked well in most of African countries and Ramaphoi said that they are alive to that hence they ensured that they benchmark on the best models especially in the Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan).
He said the reason the concept failed in most African countries is that investors used that as tax holidays and after sometimes abandon the project.
In order to ensure Botswana doesn’t follow the same route, Ramaphoi said that they want the private sector to be at the forefront of doing business. He reasoned that this is because they know how to manage risk and expert in issues of doing business while government is not.
SEZs are going to operate on a public-private partnerships model to ensure that it is successful and have already identified potential partners for the eight SEZs.
Director of Policy and Planning Lonely Mogara highlighted that their mandate as SEZA is to improve the investment climate in the country which has not been conducive.
Mogara confidently stated that they want to turn Botswana into a production hub and reduce being a consumer economy.
Recently SEZA awarded a P100 million project to Bothakga Burrow for the detailed design, infrastructure development and construction of Boulevard 1 Road at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA).
SSKIA has been zoned as a mixed use SEZ with core activities being diamond beneficiation, aerospace and aviation, cargo, agro-processing, pharmaceuticals, engineering, specialist automotive and plastics injection moulding.
Lobatse has been identified as an economic zone for the beef, leather and biogas industries, Palapye will focus on integrated coal and fuel value addition, and Selebi-Phikwe will specialise in mineral beneficiation and base metals.
Tuli Block will target horticulture and other agribusinesses while Francistown is earmarked for mining supplies, services and logistics hub while Pandamatenga area will specialise in integrated farming, agro-business and food processing.
Mogara revealed that they have already acquired land for all the eight zones with Fairgrounds having 50 hectares, Palapye 440 hectares, Francistown 700 hectares, Selibe Phikwe 1100 hectares, Pandamatenga 17000 hectares, Tuli Block 400 hectares SSKIA 800 hectares and Lobatse 200 hectares.