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Opinion - MIT’s Sustainable Special Economic Zones (SEZ) policy

2021-11-29  Staff Reporter

Opinion - MIT’s Sustainable Special Economic Zones (SEZ) policy
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Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are a key policy instrument that is deployed to ensure the attainment of economic goals as set out through the industrialisation path. 

SEZs provide a valuable platform to enable structural change through infrastructure development and streamlined regulatory mechanisms that yield significant economic benefits such as sectoral investments, employment creation, strengthened value chains as well as enhanced regional industrial cooperation. 

Special Economic Zones (SEZ) are essentially geographically defined areas usually being administered by a single body and offering conducive incentives for enterprises to locate and operate. 

The incentives are usually for a defined period and may be both financial and nonfinancial in scope. 

SEZ provide more liberal laws than what may be found in the general economy, pertaining to labour, customs and investment procedures and land use.

The National SEZ policy expands and subsumes the existing Export Processing Regime (EPZ) by strengthening key provisions such as expanded sectoral focus as well as a clear monitoring and evaluation framework. 

The outcome of the policy is to bring about successful industrialisation.

The policy title emphasises ‘sustainable’ to ensure that SEZ’s should be inclusive, lead to sustainable development and re-emphasize that Namibia was the first country in the world to observe the need for environmental sustainability in her Constitution. 

The policy builds on experience from the existing incentives regimes and proffers appropriate strategies on zone administration and the creation of appropriate institutional frameworks. 

The policy furthermore calls for the promotion of private Public Partnerships (PPP) in zone development.

This policy is developed within the presiding global policy space whilst ensuring adherence to the national agenda embedded in various policies and development frameworks. 

Further, the development of the policy is through a consultative process to ensure it is fit for the national developmental trajectory. 

Ultimately, the aim of this policy development is to ensure alignment to our national objectives of stimulating industrialisation, structural transformation of the economy, total factor productivity and the attraction of sustainable FDI and Domestic Direct Investment (DDI).

The SEZ policy is to be reviewed every five years by MIT to incorporate new market dynamics and developments. 

However, MIT may at any interval and from time to time make changes to this policy to meet changing needs of the industry. 

Given the pedestrian growth of our manufacturing sector over the years, high regional inequality as well as low sectoral productivity levels, a National SEZ policy becomes imperative. 

The SEZ policy signals to both domestic and foreign investors our readiness for doing business, building key strategic sectors whilst adhering to sustainability principles. 

The SEZ policy also pivots towards ensuring our laggard regions’ development, community sustainability and inclusion whilst maintaining fiscal credibility.

The need to attract foreign and domestic investment, increase exports, foster employment creation and act as a catalyst for structural transformation and industrialisation are among the motivating factors for the new policy. 

SEZ are useful in addressing policy key constraints such as limited access to serviced land, poor quality infrastructure and high regulatory constraints on investment and business operations.

The overall objective of the SEZ policy for Namibia is to create a modern regulatory framework governing economic zones to attain structural transformation of the economy, inclusive and sustainable growth as well as job creation. 

The SEZ policy thus aims to provide the requisite policy and implementation frameworks to ensure the development of inclusive, competitive, dynamic and innovative Namibian economic zones.

We are pleased to note that the policy and draft bill (internally) are finalised, and public consultations are now underway. 

The initial timeline was set for 2023; however, the timeframe has been shortened and the policy is expected earlier – during the first quarter of 2022 (1st quarter 2022). 

The policy is expected to translate into law after incorporating public consultation inputs. 


The SEZ expects to yield the following outcomes:

 • A regulatory framework that optimises the development and attainment of an inclusive SEZ regime in Namibia; 

• A regionally balanced operations of SEZ across Namibia; 

• Attraction of both qualitative and quantitative investments into the SEZ across industrial and services sectors; 

• Fostering of key cross-border regional and bilateral value chains development through SEZ; 

• Creation of industrial hubs and technical skills development, and 

• Enhanced developmental impact of the SEZ regime.


*Elijah Mukubonda is the chief information officer at the Ministry of Trade and Industrialisation. 

2021-11-29  Staff Reporter

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