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Source: South Africa News Agency

After years of intensive planning, the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ) is nearly ready to get off the ground.

The head of the Infrastructure and Investment Office in the Presidency, Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa, on Monday revealed that plans are well underway for construction of the SEZ.

Ramokgopa was speaking at the Infrastructure Development Roadshow taking place in Polokwane, Limpopo.

Investment in infrastructure is part of the overall economic recovery plan of government to create employment opportunities across various sectors and surrounding communities.

The Limpopo provincial government says it is confident that the Musina and Makhado municipalities — which are strategically located along the North-South Corridor and in the vicinity of the second busiest port of entry, the Beit Bridge Border Post — is the ideal home for the Special Economic Zone.

On the North site zone, 3 500 hectares of land have received environmental authorisation, and work is afoot to commence with the infrastructure roll out in 2021.

The zone is earmarked for light to medium industrial activities, focusing on agro-processing, manufacturing and logistics.

The entity has already conducted a feasibility study for an SMME Incubation Centre to integrate local business into the SEZ.

The project is getting positive feedback from South African companies that are eager to locate their operations in the zone once infrastructure is put in place.

The construction phase of the SEZ is said to unlock immediate employment and empowerment opportunities for local communities.

In his presentation, Ramokgopa said various stakeholders have been engaged on the project.

“We have been engaging with the various stakeholders and role players about the project, and something positive is coming out of the engagements,” Ramokgopa said.

Securing funding

According to Ramokgopa, discussions are ongoing on the financial aspect of the project. He, however, noted that finances are “going to be constrained”.

“We are positive that all the stakeholders are going to play very important roles in the finance aspect,” he said.

Ramokgopa recently met with the Black Business Council to discuss the country’s Infrastructure Development Plan.

Chief Executive Officer of the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, Lehlogonolo Masoga, said they are of the firm belief that the MMSEZ is on the cusp of a socio-economic breakthrough.

Masoga said they are confident that the project is “doable and viable”.

Masoga said the issue of water availability for industrial use is also receiving attention. “As you may be aware, the region is a very dry area.

“We are currently also looking at an idea of harvesting water from runoff flood water.”

Over the last few years, the Limpopo provincial government has been working hard to get the MMSEZ off the ground.

The provincial government took a decision in 2019 to have the MMSEZ State-owned company (SOC) as a stand-alone entity in terms of Schedule 3D of the PFMA.

Getting infrastructure right

Guided by recent history in development in Limpopo, particularly the development of the Medupi Power Plant in Lephalale, the MMSEZ will be used as a catalytic initiative to unlock various developmental opportunities in Musina and Makhado.

Various socio-economic infrastructure initiatives such as water, electricity, ICT, roads, rail (freight & passenger), airport, human settlement, health facilities, tourism facilities, education and training, will be unlocked as part of the project.

The MMSEZ is a two-in-one project, with the South site zone in Makhado and the North site zone in Musina.

The MMSEZ SOC has commissioned a feasibility study for the development of a new Musina Dam through harvesting annual runoff flood water in the Limpopo River.

The success of Musina Dam will unlock new opportunities for economic development in the Vhembe District, and relieve many communities from ongoing water shortages.

Developments in Northern Cape

Ramokgopa, meanwhile, has conducted an infrastructure roadshow in the Northern Cape.

The visit was part of a broader initiative to engage more with the province on its infrastructure build programme, with the aim of finding clear areas of collaboration and synergies.

The Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, in conjunction with the national Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), is in the process of finalising submission documents for the declaration of a Namakwa Special Economic Zone.

The planned Namakwa Special Economic Zone, to be established in the Aggeneys region of the Namakwa District, will have a transformative effect on the local, regional, provincial and national economies. – SAnews.gov.za

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