Issuu on Google+

Planning and managing the SEZ feasibility process A presentation at the 2011 African Free Zones Association Convention Claude Baissac May 12 2011, Dar es Salaam The presenter Claude Baissac is Secretary General of the World Economic Processing Zones Association, a body founded by UNIDO in 1978, and managed by The Flagstaff Institute for over 25 years – most of these under the enlightened and inspiring leadership of Richard L. Bolin. Claude is a self-described zone ‘buff’, infected by the zone virus in his childhood in Mauritius. While he has other professional pursuits and act as advisor on strategy and risk for mining and investment companies throughout Africa, he has remained dedicated to advancing knowledge creation and sharing on zones. He is currently involved in a number of projects in Africa, mostly through the World Bank. He is also working with Jean-Paul Gauthier on a new business in spatial economic development instruments, a firm called Locus Economica. Introduction This conference is my first African zone conference since an event back in 2004. Back then, African zone programmes were few, and represented marginal efforts at growth and transformation. Back then, zones weren’t very popular. What a difference 7 years make! For a long-time zone advocate like me, writing on zones since 1993 and researching how the Mauritius model could change Africa, this change is extremely rewarding; particularly so when so much support is being providing by previously more sceptical international organisations. Yet, while I am genuinely enthusiastic about the wave of new projects and the restructuring of existing zone programmes, I am experiencing doubt about this wave. I am concerned about its sustainability, notably over fundamentals. Looking at the figures shared by other presenters, it appears to me that while it is true that Africa has taken off, we are not seeing a commensurate growth in long term value adding activities, be they in services, industry or the primary sector. Our boom, it would seem, is primarily rent-based, pulled by the extractive sector, and the growth in services is consumption- rather than production-driven. Our boom depends on external demand, which is fuelling internal consumption. Special economic zones represent an ideal instrument to correct this bias, and create the foundation for virtuous growth by attracting more sustainable economic activities, notably those who employ more labour, equip it with transferable skills, and generate a 1|Page

Planning and managing the SEZ feasibility process

Related publications