UNCTAD organizes a workshop on the contribution of special economic zones to economic development
UNCTAD, in collaboration with the African Union and German companies, organized a two-day workshop on the contribution of special economic zones (SEZs).
The symposium aimed to boost economic diversification in Africa within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The workshop titled “Special Economic Zones in Ghana as a Tool for Industrialization and Diversification” aims to share best practices on the development of Special Economic Zones and contribute to the AfCFTA implementation process.
The workshop also provided a platform for the diverse community of stakeholders to discuss the role that special economic zones play in the continent’s economic diversification and support for regional integration. Participants included government representatives from several African countries, experts and practitioners as well as executives from the private sector and pan-African organizations.
In his remarks, Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kyerematen said SEZs are increasingly playing a key role in Africa’s industrial transformation and economic growth, despite the many challenges ahead.
“These areas can play a considerable role in the development of the African continent within the framework of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area”.
He added that “technology and innovation play a vital role in transforming an economy. Africa is lagging behind in terms of innovation and technology. SEZs through FDI act as a mode through which the improvement and implementation of innovative technologies. There is also the transfer of knowledge between local and foreign counterparts in the execution of tasks. Therefore, the dynamic benefits that come with spatial development can help achieve the AfCFTA goal and ensure the structural transformation of the continent.
“Similarly, although the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is expected to have a significant impact on SEZs on the continent, there is a lack of research and policy guidance on how zones can adapt to the new regulatory environment. If Africa is serious about adopting the SEZ development model, policy adjustments are urgently needed,” he said.
“The current situation will not spur industrialization and promote Africa’s active participation in global trade. Achieving this requires a strong long-term vision and institutional support for the success of SEZs and development in Africa, coupled with effective cooperation between different levels of government agencies and the private sector,” Mr. Keyermaten.
Foreign direct inflows are estimated to have increased in Africa by 11% in 2018.
The Minister of Trade and Industry urged all participants to help maintain a disciplined focus on the agenda to ensure that by the end of the workshop they will have a practical appreciation of the importance of SEZs for economic diversification in Africa in the context of the AfCFTA. .
In a keynote address, Michael Oquaye Junior, Managing Director of the Ghana Free Zones Authority, said, “Africa is endowed with many natural resources and every country can boast of having one dominant resource. So there is a great opportunity to leverage the resources we have to benefit from economies of scale and become competitive as a continent.
“The AfCFTA is a major initiative to strengthen structural transformation and improve the competitiveness of African industrial products. It is generally accepted that the opportunities generated by deeper regional integration will only fully materialize if African countries develop productive capacities, enabling them to take advantage of the economic complementarities between their economies and this is the reason why SEZs are crucial for the dynamics of industrialization in Africa. ”
Mr. Ocquaye Junior said that for the SEZs to be successful, however, there is a need to develop productive capacity by attracting businesses in strategic sectors and industries, adding that “this will be the strategic focus of the Ghana SEZ as well as the development of regional and continental value”. Chains.”
In this regard, he said that the initiatives of the Ministry of Trade and Industry are assessing government land banks including Greater Kumasi Industrial Park Project, Sekondi PTA, Yabiw (Shama) PTA, Land Bank of Busila and Land Bank of Salvelugu.
Plans are also well advanced to create SEZs for the automotive, pharmaceutical, agribusiness and ICT sectors, as well as to build business incubation centres.
Building on the concept note of the workshop, it aims to present the main lessons learned from the development of SEZs in Africa, the implementation of targeted policies on SEZs, the key factors that contribute to the success of the zones across the assessment of key successes in the continent, and integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into SEZ policymaking with a focus on labor and environmental practices.