Special Economic Zones to boost job creation

Pretoria - The Department of Trade and Industry (dti) has identified 10 potential Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country, which if viable will promote the creation of decent work.

Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry in Parliament on the SEZs Bill this past week, Davies said the potential SEZs will still go through a feasibility study to determine their viability.

“The purposes of the SEZs include facilitating creation of an industrial complex with strategic economic advantage for targeted investment and industries in manufacturing sector and tradable services. This will also focus on developing infrastructure to support the development of targeted industrial activities and attracting foreign and domestic direct investment,” said Davies.

The main objectives of the SEZ Bill include providing for the designation, development, promotion, operation and management of Special Economic Zones; as well as to provide for the establishment of the Special Economic Zones Board.

There were different categories of SEZs that the country would make use of, namely a free port, a free trade zone and an industrial development zone as well as a sector development zone.

Additionally, Industrial Development Zones (IDZs) would continue to be one of the elements of the SEZs.

Initiated in 2000, the IDZ programme has four designated zones, with three currently being operational, including Coega (Port Elizabeth), East London and Richards Bay.

“The IDZs … are types of the SEZs and once the new the Act is passed, they will form part of the Special Economic Zone programme,” said Davies.

He said the existing IDZs, which are a means of helping the country attain increased levels of foreign direct investment, were beginning to gain traction because of the way they were managed and promoted.

For example, the East London IDZ had previously held private sector investment of R600 million in 2009, compared to R4 billion in 2012/13.

Work under the current IDZ regulations include Saldanha Bay, which will soon be designated. Published in October 2011, the Saldanha Bay feasibility study found that there was sufficient non-environmentally sensitive land upon which an IDZ development could take place.

Total direct and indirect jobs from Saldanha Bay are expected to amount to 4 492 in the first year and 14 922 in the fifth year. From the seventh year, around 14 700 direct and indirect jobs would be sustained in the Western Cape as a result of the IDZ.

The study also found that Saldanha Bay was an ideal location for the development of an Oil and Gas and Marine Repair Cluster.

– SAnews.gov.za