Inadequate processes of land allocation and budget deficiency has emerged as major impediments towards the acceleration of the current four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) earmarked for luring foreign investors in the first phase of SEZs.
SEZA Acting Chief Executive Officer Thatayaone Ndzinge made the remarks on Tuesday while updating media on Progress made in developing the Special Economic Zones.
Botswana accelerated the establishment of a number of Special Economic Zones with pilot projects in Gaborone, Lobatse, Pandamatenga and Francistown.
Government has set aside eight pieces of land for SEZs purposes namely; Palapye 440 hectares, Fairgrounds 50 hectares, Francistown 700 hectares, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport 800 hectares, Selebi-Phikwe 1100 hectares, Tuli Block 400 hectares, Lobatse 200 hectares and Pandamatenga 17 000 hectares respectively.
Delays in acquiring land and changing of use have affected progress so far.
“Land allocation and servicing of the existing land has come out to be a challenge for us. For example the 400 hectares that we have been given in Tuli Block is not enough. This is because of high interest in the area by some of investors from South Africa,” he bemoaned.
Ndzinge also revealed that government has since delegated relevant land authorities to take charge of distributing the land SEZs set aside, noting that the 800 hectares around Sir Seretse Khama International Airport is ready for use.
Additionally, SEZA has budgetary concerns, having been awarded P1.2 billion in NDP 11.
Ndzinge said they have not yet received the money and will be able to evaluate if the budget is sufficient after execution of the master plans.
“Budgetary constraints cripple us despite the broad scope of projects. However, we appreciate the NDP 11 budget from government as we are also in the process of getting our own means of funding independent from government. We consider doing Private Public Partnerships model of funding to bolster revenue,” he said.
He said the first phase of their programme is anticipated to create a total of 150 000 direct and indirect jobs in the next 20 years.
Ndzinge said SEZA targets a wide variety of investors as per the economic value of the zones with Lobatse Leather Park envisioned for meat and leather processing investors as an example.
He added that the Pandamatenga zone will be mainly for agro processing point with an erection of 18 silos to be undertaken so as to avail enough storage space for farm produce.
Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKA) will be an industrial and business transport zone dominated by diamond trade whilst Fairgrounds Special Zone is envisioned to be a financial service hub.
Probed on how the parastatal is engaging with countries that have already made a mark in the SEZs concept, Ndzinge said they draw inspiration from countries such as China, Ireland, South Africa and Rwanda.
He said they have drawn mostly from Ireland, the first country to have successful SEZs with China later on emerging as the best SEZs after following on Ireland’s steps.
SEZA’s Deputy CEO, Investor Attraction and Facilitation, Barry Condron, said the organisation is keen on luring investors from the successful countries in terms of SEZs to set up in Botswana for the purposes of know-how.