South Africa is counting on a multibillion-dollar investment poured into its special economic zones (SEZs) to help the country recover from the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic’s lockdowns, Deputy Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Nomalungelo Gina said on Tuesday.Despite the challenges brought on by the recession and the Covid-19 pandemic, Gina said the SEZ programme continued to attract both local and foreign investments to the zones since their establishment in 2014.
“The purpose of the SEZ programme is to attract foreign and domestic investments, increase the number and value of exported products, accelerate the development of industrial infrastructure, help accelerate the beneficiation of the country’s resource endowments, and create decent jobs,” Gina said.
She said this has seen the value of operational investments increasing from US$1.2 billion by the end of the third quarter of the 2019-2020 financial year to US$1.3 billion a year later.
Gina added: “This is a positive increase of $120 million. And during the same period, the number of investments increased from 129 to 143 investors.”
According to the deputy minister, South Africa was using the zones as part of its economic recovery and reconstruction plan, by reigniting manufacturing-led industrialisation in an accelerated manner.
“As government, we are happy that although the SEZ programme is relatively new in South Africa (since 2014), it continues to attract significant numbers and value of investments in various regions of the country,” the deputy minister said.
The SEZ programme was one of the country’s important tools that government introduced to drive economic growth and regional development, she noted.
She added that the programme was also being used as a critical tool for accelerating the country’s industrial development agenda.