Key aim is ease of doing business
The Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) recently launched the Mayors Forum as a platform upon which it will engage with local governments to improve ease of doing business in Botswana, boost investment and fast track development of Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Speaking in an interview with The Botswana Gazette, the CEO of SEZA, Lonely Mogara, said the Mayors Forum was conceptualised to appreciate the important role that local authorities play in infrastructure development because they approve applications for planning, building and occupation permits.
The idea emerged after SEZA identified local authorities as critical partners in achieving its mandate. Moraga said SEZA intends to develop legal instructions for different ministries to align relevant laws with the SEZ Act to enable operationalisation of the SEZ incentives.
He added that engaging with local government should bring about the much-needed transformation as local SEZs are located in municipalities. “For us, a good working relationship with local authorities is the special ingredient required for the efficient facilitation of SEZ investors which will lead to their competitiveness and ultimate growth,” Moraga said.
The Mayors Forum will focus on referral of investors for establishment in different localities, efficient facilitation of investors, infrastructure and property development, as well as joint monitoring and evaluation of the SEZ programme at local level.
Moraga said one of the key outcomes from the Mayors Forum should be free flow of information between SEZA and local authorities. SEZA was established through the SEZ Act of 2015 and mandated with establishing, developing and managing the country’s SEZs. The Authority was tasked with creating a conducive environment for domestic and foreign direct investment, diversifying the economy and increasing exports to facilitate employment creation.
SEZs are designated geographical areas that are governed by special administrative, regulatory and fiscal regimes which are different from those applicable in the rest of the domestic economy.