Next Generation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Africa - 2023 U.S.-Africa Business Summit

The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) on Friday, July 14th, 2023, hosted the Next generation special economic zones panel at the U.S. – Africa Business Summit in Gaborone, Botswana. The panel, moderated by Mowlid Aden, Djibouti Ports & Free Zones Authority, discussed how Africa could promote SEZ development, considering proven strategies for developing SEZs in Africa. Members from both the Public and private sector spoke during the panel.

Jeanne Isabelle Gasana, the Managing director at Prime Economic Zones, Twanda began the discussion with a presentation on the SEZ model currently employed in Rwanda, as it is arguably the most well-developed strategy in the Continent. The presentation included the medium and long terms visions for the country’s development, the 2050 SEZ program, an account of how the established SEZs have contributed to Rwanda’s economy, the subsequent successes, including/highlighting the manufacturing, exporting, and assembling companies that were birthed and wound up with a summary of Kigali’s economic projections for 2030.

Tijani Yahaya Kaura, the Managing Director & CEO of the Oil & Gas Free Zone Authority, addressed the challenges of initiating efficient SEZ strategies in Africa. Tijani highlighted the immense unrealized potential for growth in Africa and asserted that this lack of actualization directly resulted from a lack of efficient strategies. Lonely Mogara, the Managing Director for the Special Economic Zones Authority Botswana, addressed how Botswana has harnessed SEZs as a strategy for the long term. He spoke about the importance of creating a clear and concise regulatory framework, as well as the need to provide investors with the necessary incentives.

 Humphrey Nwugo, the Regional Chief Operating Officer, Client Relations (Southern Africa Region) for the African Export-Import Bank, spoke about how the gap for investor support in Africa can be bridged. Humphrey further asserted that the answer lies in industrialization and that governments need to create a more favorable investment climate.

And finally, Ziad Alexandre, the President of the World Association of PPP, Geneva, further spoke about what hinders Africa's SEZ growth. He identified several challenges, including a need for more political will, poor infrastructure, and skilled labor.

This session focused on the strategies necessary to develop successful SEZs. A shared risk between the public and private sectors was encouraged. Governments are to diversify economic development by developing clear design concepts/scopes using comparative or competitive advantage and working with multinational corporations to build more robust value chains.


Click here to watch the recorded session.