A group of twenty government officials will depart for Tianjin, China tomorrow to participate in a month-long Capacity Building Programme on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs). The group comprises of officials who are involved in the planning, development, management and operations of SEZs in South Africa.
The training is part of a five-year agreement signed by South Africa and China in 2014. The intention of the agreement is to train a maximum of thirty officials per annum on SEZs. Project executives and sector specialists attended the first two instalments of the training in 2013 and 2015, respectively. For the current financial year project officers from various Industrial Development Zones (IDZs) and SEZs are afforded an opportunity to receive the training.
According to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, the purpose of the Capacity Building Programme on Special Economic Zones is to equip policy-makers, development practitioners and operators with the technical know-how on the planning, development, management and operations of the SEZs.
"The Programme is important to ensure that all stakeholders have the technical know-how required for the successful development of the SEZs in South Africa. One of the major challenges that government has identified in relation to the development of the SEZs as part of the implementation of our SEZ programme is the capacity constraint across the three tiers of government," says Minister Davies.
He adds that an initial assessment of the capacity of provinces and municipalities suggests that they will require significant support from the dti for the objectives of the programme to be achieved throughout the country.
"It is this background that the department deemed it necessary to design and implement a systematic Capacity Building Programme on the Special economic Zones in order to create a pool of skilled and trained officials who will make the implementation of the SEZ programme a success.
Despite the strong and mutually-beneficial political and economic relations that we have with China, the country is regarded as one of the best in the world when it comes to the implementation of the SEZs model. Our officials will be greatly empowered by being exposed to the zones in China and how they are managed," stresses Minister Davies.
The training covers a range of topics including planning, infrastructure development, developing investment propositions, marketing tools and channels, and how to deal with potential investors, stakeholder management including international alliances, public-private partnerships models, as well as financing and managing operations of the SEZ.
"The Special Economic Zones Programme has been introduced to contribute to accelerating industrialisation as a necessary step towards addressing many of the country's socio-economic challenges such as unemployment, poverty and under-development," says Minister Davies.