DURBAN - Kwazulu-Natal is again rolling out the red carpet for delegates coming from all over the country to attend a two-day national Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Summit in eThekwini.

The summit, themed “Moving Towards Excellence”, is being hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs jointly with the Department of Trade and Industry. The summit will be held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban today and tomorrow.

More than 500 delegates and an assortment of speakers are expected to take part. The delegates will comprise national, provincial and local government officials, state-owned entities, SEZ officials, industry associations, experts and academics, international investment communities and local businesses, and multinational corporations. Ports and logistics operators are also attending.

KwaZulu-Natal has two SEZs at Dube Trade Port (DTP) and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) that are strategically located within the radius of two ports as catalysts and engines for mega economic development in the province.

These two SEZs have bolstered KwaZulu-Natal’s investment portfolio and have played a pivotal role in the province’s R200billion-worth of investment.

The summit comes just as an R18bn second-phase expansion of the DTP has been announced. The DTP has signed R3.2billion worth of investments in diversified sectors since its inception two decades ago.

Since its launch a few years ago, RBIDZ has since signed investments of more than R11.9bn.

The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said the summit would contribute significantly in promoting and validating the South African SEZ value-proposition.

“For South Africa to have vibrant SEZs and competitive regional economies, it is necessary to engage in regular dialogues among key stakeholders such as this national conference.

“The SEZ programme was specifically developed to promote the creation of a regionally-diversified industrial economy by establishing new industrial hubs in underdeveloped regions of our country,” Zikalala said.

He said it was imperative to bring together representatives of all spheres of government, the SEZs, relevant agencies and international experts to share ideas, expertise and information on progress made and challenges encountered in the implementation of the SEZ programme. This was essential in achieving government’s strategic objectives of industrialisation, regional development and job creation.