Experts, policymakers gather in Ethiopia to discuss on SEZs role to spur Africa’s industrialization


African leaders of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), experts and policymakers have gathered in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss on the role of SEZs towards accelerating African industrialization.

The fourth annual meeting of African Economic Zones, slated from November 18 to 20 at the headquarters of the Africa Union (AU) Commission in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, will be held under the theme “Special Economic Zones: Accelerator for Industrialization in Africa,” the AU and the organizers, Africa Free Zones Organization (AFZO), disclosed on Monday.

“The African leaders of Economic Zones and Free Zones engaged their collective knowledge, through Africa Free Zones Organization meetings, providing strategic and technical assistance, identifying business opportunities and promoting sustainable economic development models and practices,” the AU said in a statement issued on Monday.

The high-level economic zones-themed continental meeting, which will also feature the African Industrialization Day on Nov. 20 that will bring together a number of African leaders in Addis Ababa, will on Tuesday discuss on topics including challenges and policy trends of industrial development within SEZs in Africa, according to the AFZO.

The meeting, which brought together more than 200 stakeholders from the African continent and beyond, “will be an ideal opportunity to get insightful experience on economic zones development models and business alliances,” according to AFZO, which jointly organizes the meeting in partnership with the AU and the Ethiopian Investment Commission.

Noting that special economic zones are “becoming the most popular instrument for economic growth significantly contributing to the overall GDP across the African continent,” the organizers stressed that international experts, policymakers and senior executives attending the imminent meeting are expected to share “their expertise on effective approaches regarding the contribution of African Economic Zones in supporting industrial development and the implementation of best practices.”

According to figures from Africa Free Zones Organization, the implementation of special economic zones in Africa has generated over 60 million jobs in various sectors including Agro-processing, manufacturing and services for the last 5 years.

Figures from AFZO also show that more than 189 SEZs have been developed in Africa, while over 57 ongoing projects have been also announced for completion.

The annual meeting of African Economic Zones is being held on the margin of the AU Commission’s flagship Africa Industrialization Week, which is slated from November 18 to 22 under the theme “Positioning African Industry to Supply the African Continental Free Trade Area Market.”

The week-long continental event, which attracts more than 1,000 African experts and policymakers at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, among other things, envisaged “mobilizing both African and leaders from the rest of the world, including international development organizations to advocate for the accelerated and sustainable as well as inclusive industrialization of Africa,” according to the AU.

The AIW-2019 is organized by the AU Commission’s Department of Trade and Industry in collaboration with International Trade Centre, Geneva, Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Africa Free Zones Organization, the UN Industrial Development Organization, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, European Union, among others. Enditem

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