FRANCISTOWN: The director of Policy and Industry at Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) Lonely Mogara has said that Francistown has been allocated additional land to develop a new stateof the art inland logistics hub.
Mogara was addressing a special full council in Francistown on Wednesday. For some time there have been concerns that land allocated for the construction of the much-anticipated logistics hubs is not adequate. Initially, the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services had availed 397 hectares of land for the construction of the facility.
Under the special economic zones, Francistown is earmarked for a mining and modern logistics hub serving the rest of Africa.
Francistown, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport, Selebi Phikwe Economic Diversification Unit (SPEDU), Lobatse, Palapye, Pandamatenga, Fairgrounds, Sowa Town and Tuli Block are classified under the special economic zones. The nine areas were recognised as special economic zones owing to their relatively collapsing economies.
Identifying them as such was meant to increase trade, create employment, increase investment and effective administration. SEZA oversees all the special economic zones and comes up with initiatives meant to attract foreign and local investors to set up in those areas.
“The Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services has since allocated us more land for the construction of a modern in land logistics hub. Land totalling 700 hectares has been reserved for the construction the of the logistics hub,” Mogara told the council.
Mogara stated that the ministry is currently surveying the land before officially handing it to SEZA.
He also said authorities at SEZA were awaiting the approval of other suitable regulatory frame works for special economic zones, by parliament before they could commence the domestic and international marketing of the (special economic zones) sites in Botswana and abroad. He was not precise as to when the regulatory frame works will be approved.
Mogara added that the Francistown inland logistics hub would be one of the biggest in Africa. The hugely anticipated logistics hub will be constructed near the Francistown International Airport.
He also commented on the slow take off, of the special economic zones in his address, “ Special economic zones are not conventional. They are very complex. They are transformative and they need a strong foundation in terms of regulations as well as overall planning. It takes time for them to be rolled out but when they are eventually rolled they become very beneficial.
In the meantime we plead with local (Botswana) businesses to strongly position themselves to form the core of the special economic zones,” Mogara said.
In another notable development, Mogara said that SEZA would appoint managers for each of the nine special economic zones in order for them to be run with maximum efficiency.
Meanwhile, Francistown councillors endorsed Francistown to be legally recognised as a special economic zone as required by section 29 of the SEZA act.
“A person shall not, within a special economic zone, conduct retail trade or any other business activity without the approval of the Authority,” states Section 29 (4) of the act.