The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) says it yet to activate its Special Economic Zones (SEZ) which were established last year as part of efforts to stimulate economic growth in the city.
SEZs are geographically designated areas of the country which are set aside for specifically targeted economic activities to promote national economic growth by using support measures to attract both foreign and domestic investments.
Umvumila, Belmont, Donnington and Kelvin west-which are industrial places-were declared SEZs but to date, not much activity has taken place to reflect their status.
Speaking at a recent Bulawayo Investment Conference, the city`s economic development officer Kholisani Moyo said about seven companies have been approved to start up their businesses.
Moyo urged more companies to apply to the Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (ZimSeza) and take up business opportunities on offer in the city.
He said when the SEZs were declared the primary sectors considered were textile, leather and clothing but the Authority added more sectors such as food processing, manufacturing and engineering among others.
“As a committee, we realised the initial three sectors would not be enough to sustain the whole of the Bulawayo economy hence we added more. We are urging investors to bring in their applications so that we can verify if they meet the standard requirements,” said Moyo.
Moyo said the zones were classified into area specific and sector specific to help companies meet the necessary requirement.
“There are some that already have structures and what is needed is just to put up equipment inline with the sector.
“There are areas such as Umvumila that are just open spaces which need to be first developed into industrial parks that need proper infrastructure. These are some things that need to be considered by the companies,” he said.
Oluyoni Ajayi an investor who spoke at the conference on energy smart metering system said their firm intends to set up a plant in the city.
“We understand the government is working towards eradicating poverty and availing affordable energy or the people.
“Our factories would employ about 120 people for every 50 000 meters. These will include energy auditors and data analysts. These meters are also effective in minimizing energy use hence fewer bills,” he said.
Ajayi said the firm would set up a smart meter control rooms which will serve as a centre which detects faults to ensure efficient attendance to faults.
He said they have assessed the medium strategic policy and are working around it to capacitate themselves.
“We need to have a baseline. We have taken up the policy and are capacitated to do the project. We have gathered data from ZIMDAT for comparative analysis as well.
“We need human resources and infrastructure. We want to avail sustainable energy for all. We will work on improving infrastructure. We also want to make an energy data repository which will serve as a data base for those who would want to come and invest in the future,” said Ajayi.