Participating in the IPEMED-AEZO-AME Foundation webinar on SSEZs on 28/09:
Moulay Hafid EL ALAMY, Minister of Industry of Morocco, calling for a Euro-African model of Special and Secure Economic Zones (SSEZs)
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A webinar based on the recent Report of Ipemed, in cooperation with AEZO and La Verticale AME Foundation titled “For a Euro-African model of Special and Secure Economic Zones (SSEZs)” will be held on September 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Paris Time) – registration at the end of the article. Here is a preview of the preface to the Report, signed by the Minister.
« The fate of Africa rests largely on its industrialization from the on-site processing of its abundant and diversified raw materials. It is indeed through this industrialization that economic value will be created and large numbers of jobs for young people and the middle class will be developed. To accelerate industrialization, it is necessary to appeal to local savings, the dynamism of African companies as well as to foreign direct investments (FDI).
As in China in the 1980s and 1990s, the influx of foreign investment is a source of development to be favored. However, FDI coming from abroad need a viable environment (presence of roads and railways, equipped ports, energy, high-speed Internet, professional training of employees, etc.) but also a stable political and institutional framework (regulations, legal status, capital mobility, etc.). In addition to the essential physical infrastructure, there is a need for a stable institutional environment and competitive taxation to be able to attract and secure FDI.
Proposals to improve the model: from SEZs to Secure SEZs
Therefore in order to accelerate their industrialization, all African countries must create Special Economic Zones, which, according to UNCTAD, are characterized by the following three criteria:
– A strictly delimited area,
– A specific tax and customs regime,
– A set of infrastructures facilitating the export of productions.
Alongside these very specific zones, there is a whole set of business grouping models that are not based on these derogatory regimes, which also have specific features such as industrial districts, ecosystems, technopoles, technological parks and clusters.
The study proposed by IPEMED and AEZO [the Report will be distributed free of charge to participants of the September 28 webinar: register below, editor’s note] is interesting due to its operational approach. It is not focused on statistical and academic studies but on the practical functioning of these economic zones, making a set of proposals to improve the SEZ model.
This study aims to bring awareness among European and international decision-makers of the power of SEZs as a tool in service of the industrialization of Africa. This study also has the merit of highlighting the weaknesses of a narrow vision of Euro-African cooperation and suggests some avenues to overcome these by exploring an original African industrial model that is cooperative, inclusive, and environmentally conscious.
Switching from current SEZs to Special and Secure SSEZs would be a win / win process for European industry and for African industry. This path towards the clustering of SEZs into SSEZs consists in a long road of transformation and learning.
I agree with the proposal that the European Union and the African Union could set up a common industrial initiative to facilitate the creation of such SSEZs and establish (in Tangier, why not?) a joint EU-AU SSEZs laboratory. Equipped with the capacity for analysis, training, technical advice, benchmarking and intervention, and by means of labeling these Special and Secure Economic Zones, it could participate in and contribute to the emergence of a specific African model.
Moulay Hafid Elalamy