By Dumisani Nsingo
Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZimSeza) board chairman, Dr Gideon Gono is confident that closed industries in Bulawayo will be brought back to life under the new investment drive.
He said his authority was working on ensuring that Bulawayo benefits immensely as it was in a prime position to attract more investors under the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) model.
“A low hanging fruit are the many factories that have closed. We believe that it’s a low hanging fruit…if the owners of those structures can find investors to join hands with and seed their factories as their contribution, I think we are comfortable to stimulate through investment by giving them SEZ status,” said Dr Gono.
“We are aware that the Belmont (industrial) area (in Bulawayo) is quite amenable to that.”
The former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was addressing delegates including Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister, Dr Mike Bimha and officials who attended the ZimSeza strategic planning workshop in Bulawayo on Saturday evening.
Dr Gono said the authority was working on designating the Zambezi Water Project and various other projects especially agricultural enterprises to sprout from it under SEZs status.
“With specific reference to Matabeleland region Honourable Minister your board is very keen to bring to fruition a certain type of project that has remained unimplemented or incomplete for a very long time. We want to add an incentive regarding to the Matabeleland-Zambezi Water Project,” he said.
“We have a vision that we would want to declare that (project) as a Special Economic Zone corridor that is going to see developers, builders of the (Gwayi-Shangani) Dam being accorded SEZ status with benefits that accrue to them and those that are going to start a green-belt along that corridor are accorded SEZ status.”
Dr Gono called on potential investors to take this opportunity to explore various investment opportunities that are likely to come out from the Zambezi Water Project.
“We would like to challenge investors to come and join hands with Government and the City of Kings (Bulawayo City Council). In order to implement that we will play our part in ensuring that projects along that corridor are given special attention, so will be the case with the projects that will be around Tokwe-Mukosi. We are really keen to make sure projects that are around water bodies take off quickly,” said Dr Gono.
He said SEZ status would be accorded to a number of projects across the country depending on their economic contribution to the country.
“We have several projects that we are ready to implement and approved and within the same context given the regulations and incentives we are required to designate-legal-Special Economic Zones area. We know that there are calls for Bulawayo to be a SEZ, so is the Sun City, so is Victoria Falls.
“But we have added a couple of others, we have added 39 million square metres-that makes the whole Zimbabwe as potential…the 10 provinces in Zimbabwe are capable of having projects that can be designated as SEZ,” said Dr Gono.
He applauded Dr Bimha for playing a pivotal role in ensuring the resuscitation of a number of companies that had closed shop and those that were teetering to turn around their fortunes from the time he assumed office. The Chronicle