Govt releases rules for economic zones

Regulations have been developed to address challenges that may hinder investors in Special Economic Zones (SEZs), an official in charge of the zones has said.
Industrial plants and development in Kigali Special Economic Zone. The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.
Industrial plants and development in Kigali Special Economic Zone. The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.

Regulations have been developed to address challenges that may hinder investors in Special Economic Zones (SEZs), an official in charge of the zones has said.

The set of rules that include authorisation of setting up of one-stop-shops in the zones, issuance of licences, creation of special zones and modalities regarding development and operation of the zones, have been promulgated in the state gazette.

 

John Bosco Sendahangarwa, the head of Special Economic Zones Authority of Rwanda (Sezar), said the regulatory body has issued the four regulations to enable it to operate in a more sustainable way.

 

“The regulations will enable us to ensure the zone is governed in a more transparent and flexible way to allow investors to operate with ease,” he added.

 

Special zones offer a business-friendly operating environment attractive to foreign and local investors. 

They also stimulate the economy by generating thousands of jobs and encouraging the setting up of subsidiary industries, and helping in the transfer of knowledge, expertise and technology to the country. 

In a bid to open more investment opportunities for investors, Rwanda is currently focusing on developing special trade areas in different parts of the country.

With the regulations in place, Sendahangarwa said, challenges related to industrial and commercial land, energy costs, limited transport linkages, market access and skills will be handled by the Sezar. 

He added that the issuance of the regulations will effectively enable the developers and traders to acquire the needed licences for operation.

“This will go a long way in ensuring that the investors’ experience is truly enhanced,” Sendahangarwa said.

He said for the case of Kigali Special Economic Zone (KSEZ), about 54 firms acquired 89 plots in the first phase, while seven companies had booked for the second phase.

KSEZ is developed in three phases. Phases one and two of the zone cover a surface area of 277 hectares, while the third phase will cover approximately 134 hectares.

KSEZ is a partnership between the government, Rwanda Development Bank, Rwanda Social Security Board, insurance firm Sonarwa, Prime Holdings, Magerwa and Bond Trading. 

However, depending on the success of KSEZ, government plans to develop more special economic zones in the country.

SEZs are parts of land in selected geographical areas with liberal economic laws, infrastructure and conducive business environment to foster economic growth. They include Free Ports, Free Trade Zones, Technology Parks, Tourism Parks, Information Technology Parks, among others. 

According to Sezar, at Kigali Special Economic Zone, infrastructure development that includes tarmac roads, water and electricity rollout and a waste water treatment plant are 98 percent complete.

According to one of the regulations released this week, Sezar will be empowered to set up a one-stop-shop for each zone to provide the zone developer, operator, users and residents clear procedures regarding the operation of the area.

Jean Isabelle Gasana, the managing director of Prime Economic Zones, the developers of KSEZ, said regulations are crucial in guiding on how to develop the zones in a transparent and sustainable manner.

“We shall use laws to engage government in terms of attracting investors both local and foreign where operations at the zones will be clear to every investor,” she said.

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