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SEZA signs key agreements to cement mandate

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SEZA signs key agreements to cement mandate

The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has signed strategic agreements with key organisations in a bid to push its mandate of boosting economic development by positioning Botswana as a premier investment destination and improving the country’s ease of doing business.

SEZA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lonely Mogara said in an interview last week that the Authority has signed agreements with key organisations like Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), Selibe Phikwe Economic Development Unit (SPEDU) and Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) as part of its strategy of developing Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

“As part of our plan to manage and regulate SEZs in Botswana, we are in discussions with strategic organisations that will be appointed Zone Management Companies. This will allow SEZA to become a regulator and avoid playing the dual role of developer and regulator,” said Mogara.

In that regard, he added, SEZA has identified the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) as a potential Zone Management Company for the Lobatse SEZ, where the much-anticipated leather park is being set up.

Fairgrounds Holdings will be the Zone Management Company for the Fairgrounds FinTech SEZ.

“Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) has been targeted for the SSKIA SEZ, SPEDU for Selibe Phikwe and Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board (BAMB) for Pandamatenga,” said Mogara.

He further revealed that SEZA found it fit to explore partnerships with these stakeholders to leverage their strengths and optimise the country’s resources.

To this end, he said, SEZA has already signed a Memorandum of Agreement with BIH and another Memorandum of Understanding with Business Botswana.

“Negotiations are at an advanced stage to sign agreements with BAMB and LEA,” said Moraga.

SEZA is mandated with establishing, developing, managing, and regulating a portfolio of SEZs: Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA), Fairgrounds, Lobatse, Pandamatenga, Palapye, Francistown, Selibe-Phikwe and Tuli Block.

Mogara explained that the Authority has a number of key objectives, among them to attract world-class investors and diversify Botswana’s economy through increased export revenue and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); develop SEZs that are integrated into the domestic, regional, and international markets; facilitate cluster development; and create backward and forward linkages anchored by targeted investors.

“We intend to roll out a red carpet for SEZ investors through a robust One-Stop Service Centre (OSSC). We will also regulate all SEZs in Botswana and monitor investor compliance to set rules and regulations,” said Mogara.

SEZs are a result of recommendations by the Business Economic Advisory Council (BEAC), which was set up by former President Festus Mogae in 2005.

Subsequent to the BEAC recommendations, Government adopted the SEZ Policy of 2011.

In 2012/13, the Government engaged Kaiser and Associates – a renowned multi-national headquartered in the USA – to conduct a feasibility study, which recommended eight public sector-led special economic zones.

The SEZA Act was subsequently passed by Parliament in 2015, followed by the establishment of SEZA in 2016, the approval of SEZ Regulations of 2018, and SEZ Incentives in 2019.

END

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