The Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu.
DURBAN - The Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, says the effective participation of the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) is important for the success of the special economic zones programme.

Zulu was speaking at the national Special Economic Zones (SEZs) Conference in Durban last week.

She announced that her department had commissioned research into opportunities for SMMEs and how challenges associated with these opportunities can be overcome to ensure meaningful participation of SMMEs within the SEZs.

She said the study would be concluded and approved in June this year.

The objectives of the study include exploring international best practices regarding the opportunities and how these were effected for SMMEs within SEZs in China and Singapore.

“We are also studying the specific sectors and industries that are earmarked for certain SEZs and looking at working with local and provincial government to see how best we can direct support for these sectors mainly high-end productive sectors such as manufacturing and industrialisation, automotives, agro-processing and business services, in order for us to direct our support accordingly,” said Zulu.

Speaking at the same conference, Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said the focus on SEZs was crucial.

“They are designed for a specific developmental purpose, to develop export-orientated industries, attract foreign direct investment and technology transfer, and achieve the generation of employment opportunities. The SEZs stand to be an effective instrument to resolve the disturbing levels of inequality, poverty and unemployment, which are strongly marked by spatial, racial, class and gender factors.”

The chief director of special economic zones at the Department of Trace and Industry, Maoto Molefane, said South Africa recognised industrialisation as a preferred route to sustainable economic success.

Molefane said: “ As government we are committed to improve the impact of the programme and have therefore prioritised the finalisation of a 10-year SEZ Development Roadmap, as well as institutional development for the 2019/2020 financial year.”