SEZA to deal with P9 billion food import bill

*food security is put on the spotlight

GP Correspondent

As food security concerns heighten across the globe, Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) has initiatives on the radar to tackle the looming challenge on the local market.

Lonely Mogara, SEZA Chief Executive Officer says plans to help the economy reduce its high import bill on food are on the pipeline.

“We are all aware of Botswana’s high food import bill, which stands at about P9 billion, boosting agri-business will greatly reduce the import bill, create jobs and help us.

“At the same time, we have to improve water and energy security because these are key inputs for domestic, industrial and agricultural production,” said Mogara.

He said the Authority has crafted a blueprint to address the economy’s top five challenges – unemployment, poverty, high import bill, energy security and water.

Mogara is also optimistic that the local economy has potential to be a regional financial services hub. He said it is imperative to promote the growth of all financial sub sectors like banking, insurance, pensions and financial technology.

Mogara believes a healthy financial services industry would also boost the manufacturing sector and drive industrialisation and innovation.

Meanwhile SEZA is forging strategic alliances with key parastatals, as it prepares to start some of its flagship projects.

Some of the proposed partnerships have identified the Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) as a potential zone management company for the Lobatse special economic zone (SEZ), which encompasses the 300-hectare Spitzkop Farm, a 60-hectare dry tannery and water treatment ponds.

The key economic activities in Lobatse will include meat and leather processing, dairy processing, logistics and distribution, biotechnology as well as finished leather goods for the fashion, automotive and household sectors.

On the other hand, Fairgrounds Holdings has been identified as the ideal supervision company for the Fairgrounds SEZ, which is anticipated to be a financial services hub, housing business processing outsourcing (BPO), investment fund management, banking, fintech companies and insurance.

Similarly, SEZA will approach SPEDU for the Selibe Phikwe SEZ, while negotiations are at an advanced stage with BAMB for the management of Pandamatenga.

“We found it fit to leverage on these stakeholders’ strengths in order to optimise the country’s resources. We have so far signed agreements with BIH and Business Botswana. Negotiations are at an advanced stage to sign agreements with BAMB and LEA,” said Mogara.