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Special Economic Zone (SEZ)


The South African government, in an effort to reposition itself in the world economy established the Industrial Development Zones (IDZ) programme. The Programme's main focus was to attract Foreign Direct Investment and export of value-added commodities. Although there are major achievements with the IDZs there were weaknesses that led to the policy review and the new SEZ policy.

The policy review and the new SEZ Programme, which began in 2007, was also brought about by the developments in national economic policies and strategies such as the National Industrial Policy Framework, and the New Growth Path, as well as developments in the global economic environment such as the formation of BRICS.

The new SEZ Policy provides a clear framework for the development, operations and management of SEZ's, including addressing challenges of the current IDZ Programme. The purpose of the SEZ programme therefore is to:

  • Expand the strategic industrialisation focus to cover diverse regional development needs and context; and
  • Provide a clear, predictable and systemic planning framework for the development of a wider array of SEZ's to support industrial policy objectives, the IPAP and the NGP.
Clarify and strengthen governance arrangements, expand the range and quality of support measure beyond provision of infrastructure, provide a framework for a predictable financing framework to enable long term planning.

Overview of the SEZ Programme

Special Economic Zones (SEZs), are geographically designated areas of a country set aside for specifically targeted economic activities, supported through special arrangements (that may include laws) and systems that are often different from those that apply in the rest of the country.

The 2014/15 - 2016/17 Industrial Policy Action Plan - IPAP identifies SEZs as key contributors to economic development. They are growth engines towards government's strategic objectives of industrialisation, regional development and employment creation.

Special Economic Zones may be sector-specific or multi-product and the following categories of SEZs have been defined as per the SEZ Act No. 16 of 2014:

  • "Industrial Development Zone" means a purpose built industrial estate that leverages domestic and foreign fixed direct investment in value-added and export-oriented manufacturing industries and services;
  • "Free Port" means a duty free area adjacent to a port of entry where imported goods may be unloaded for value-adding activities within the Special Economic Zone for storage, repackaging or processing, subject to customs import procedures;
  • "Free Trade Zone" means a duty free area offering storage and distribution facilities for value-adding activities within the Special Economic Zone for subsequent export;
  • "Sector Development Zone" means a zone focused on the development of a specific sector or industry through the facilitation of general or specific industrial infrastructure, incentives, technical and business services primarily for the export market.

SEZ Act No. 16 of 2014.

The SEZ Act provides for:
  • The designation, promotion, development, operation and management of SEZs;
  • The establishment of the SEZ Advisory Board;
  • The establishment of a the SEZ Fund;
  • The regulation of application, issuing, suspension, withdrawal and transfer of SEZ operator permits; and
  • The functions of SEZ operators.
The objectives of the Act are to:
  • Determine SEZ Policy and Strategy;
  • Establish an SEZ Advisory Board and SEZ Fund;
  • Ensure proper designation, operation, promotion, development and management of SEZs;
  • Enact regulatory measures and incentives for SEZs in order to attract domestic investment as well as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); and
  • To establish a one-stop-shop to deliver government services within the zone.

Benefits of operating within an SEZ

A number of incentives will be available to ensure SEZs growth, revenue generation, creation of jobs, attraction of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and international competitiveness.

  • 15% Corporate Tax
  • Building Allowance
  • Employment Incentive
  • Customs Controlled Area
  • 12i Tax Allowance

Existing Industrial Development Zones (IDZ's) in South Africa

These zones were developed with the aim to increase industrial growth. There are currently five operating IDZs in South Africa, namely:

  • Coega IDZ

    The Coega IDZ is the largest IDZ in Southern Africa. It was designated in 2001 and became South Africas first Industrial Development Zone. It is located in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province and it is strategically located on the east-west trade route to service both world and African markets. The Coega IDZ leverages public sector investment to attract foreign and domestic direct investment in the manufacturing sector with an export orientation. The IDZ has attracted investment in the agro-processing,automotive, aquaculture, energy, metals logistics and business process services sectors. This has advanced socio-economic development in the Eastern Cape region through skills development, technology transfer and job creation.

    For more information visit

    Or contact:

    Ms Keletso Tsele
    the dti Project manager:
    Tel: +27 (12) 394 5964
    Fax: +27(12) 394 6964

  • Richards Bay IDZ

    The Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (RBIDZ) is a purpose built and secure industrial estate on the North-Eastern South African coast. The N2 business corridor links the Province's two major ports, Durban and Richards Bay, and connects with Maputo in Mozambique and, ultimately, areas of East Africa. It is linked to an international sea port of Richards Bay, tailored for manufacturing and storage of minerals and products to boost beneficiation, investment, economic growth and, most importantly, the development of skills and employment. First-world infrastructure allows for the full exploitation of the areas' natural and strategic advantages. Through the superb industrial infrastructure, well-established network of shipments, tax and duty free incentives, the IDZ aims to encourage international competitiveness and the attraction of export-orientated manufacturing investment.

    For more information visit:

    Or contact:

    Mr Kenneth Mojela
    the dti Project manager:
    Tel: +27 (12) 394 5690
    Fax: +27 (12) 394 6690

  • East London IDZ

    Innovation, Efficiency, Growth and Sustainability are key to the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ's) reason for existence. Established in 2003, as part of the South African government initiative to improve industrial competitiveness and economic growth in the country, the zone has become a prime industrial park in South Africa, renowned for its customised solutions for various industries including automotive, agro-processing and aqua-culture. The ELIDZ offers growth oriented companies a specialised manufacturing platform, innovative industrial and business solutions access to new markets and strategic industry networks.

    The ELIDZ, one of the country's leading specialised industrial parks, is located in Buffalo City, the municipal area which also incorporates Bhisho, the province's capital and King William's Town. It is one of the first IDZs in South Africa to be operational and represents an ideal choice for the location of exported manufacturing and processing. Its location provides investors with connections to major markets, locally and across the globe.

    For more information visit

    Or contact:

    Mr Johan Engelbrecht
    the dti Project manager:
    Tel: +27 (12) 394 1239
    Fax: +27 (12) 394 2239

  • Saldanha Bay IDZ

    President Jacob Zuma launched the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) and handed over the operator permit on 31 October 2013 at Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape Province. It is envisioned that this newly established IDZ will serve as the primary oil, gas and Marine Repair engineering and logistics services complex in Africa, servicing the needs of the upstream Oil Exploration Industry and Production service companies operating in the oil and gas fields off Sub-Saharan Africa. Situated approximately two hours north of Cape Town. The SBIDZ will include logistics, repairs and maintenance, and fabrication activities.

    For more information visit

    Or contact:

    Mr Warren Smith
    the dti Project manager:
    Tel: +27 (12) 394 3412
    Fax: +27(12) 394 4412

  • Dube Trade Port

    Dube TradePort is a catalyst for global trade and a portal between KwaZulu-Natal and the world. It is the only facility in Africa that brings together an international airport, a cargo terminal, warehousing, offices, a retail sector, hotels, and an agricultural area. Located 30km north of Durban, Dube TradePort is positioned between the two biggest sea ports in Southern Africa, and linked to the rest of Africa by road and rail.

    For more information visit

    Or contact:

    Ms Lerato Mosidi
    the dti Project manager:
    Tel: +27 (12) 394 1447
    Fax: +27 (12) 394 2447

One Stop Shop (OSS) Facility

the dti is currently in the process of establishing the OSS Model for South African SEZ's. In consultation with the key relevant national stakeholders, the Minister of Trade and Industry will be entering into Implementation Protocol for the successful coordination of these relevant functions.

The bureaucracies of investing across international boundaries can be a major barrier to the development of international trade, particularly in developing countries. Potential investors face significant challenges and delays in interacting with various government departments and agencies, resulting in government bureaucracy being frequently cited as an obstacle to ease of doing business.

International benchmarking studies have shown that a Single Window Facility (One Stop Shop) is a means of addressing this problem. An OSS can improve the availability and handling of information as OSS's allow for the simplification and streamlining of information flows, processes, IT and resource systems etc. through one coordinating facility. The aim of the SEZ one shop stop facility will be to:

  • Facilitate access by investors to all required permits and licenses and other informational requirements in a timely manner;
  • Eliminate steps in the approvals/ administrative process and allow parallel rather than sequential approvals; and
  • Provide after-care to existing investors.

Key features of the OSS include:

  • Physical Planning - Helps investors to plan the development of the zones in terms of land assessment, office space selection and logistics;
  • Licensing - Simplifies process of obtaining business license by e.g.integrating the licensing authority into one department or providing access to different agencies;
  • Utilities - Facilitates a single point access to basic utilities required for setting up operating industrial zone and other establishments;
  • Industrial development incentives - Assist current and potential future tenants to understand and access the portfolio of incentives and support measures available in different sectors and the processing of relevant applications;
  • Financing - Facilitates access of investors to direct or indirect financial assistance to set up their business in the zones; and
  • Environmental compliance - Assist in maintaining environmental standards and obtaining environmental approvals.

Special Economic Zone Fund

Given longer term funding constraints, the SEZ Act and the SEZ draft strategy encourages the private sector to play an active role in the South African Special Economic Zones Programme. The SEZ Act envisages public private partnerships in the development and operation of Special Economic Zones. This offers the potential for a number of different models involving:

  • Assembly of land parcels with secure title and development rights by the government for lease to private zone development groups;
  • Build - operate- transfer approaches to onsite zone infrastructure and facilities with government guarantees and /or financial support;
  • Contracting private management for government owned zones or lease of government owned assets by a private operator.

A SEZ fund intends providing multi-year funding for SEZ infrastructure and related operator performance improvement initiatives aimed at accelerating growth of manufacturing and internationally traded service operations, to be located within the designated zones.

The primary objective is to provide capital towards bulk and related infrastructure that leverages investment from third parties, through foreign and local direct investment in both the operations of such enterprises and the infrastructure required. A secondary focus is to provide limited operator and investor project financial and advisory support to affirm the feasibility of such projects and for work that will measurably improve the efficiency and effectiveness of SEZ's to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of SEZ's and their supply chains.

This industrial infrastructure is expected to leverage FDI and private investment and achieve:

  • Increased exports of value added products;
  • Measurable improvement in levels of localisation and related value chains;
  • Increased beneficiation of mineral and agricultural resources;
  • Increased flow of foreign direct investment;
  • Increased job opportunities; and
  • Creation of industrial hubs, clusters and value chains in underdeveloped areas.

The SEZ Fund will be available for pre and post designation to:

  • Applicants that are currently operating an IDZ with a valid operator permit, subject to confirmation that an investor that requires infrastructure support has been signed and the investment is in line with the programme objectives;
  • Applicants in the process of setting up an SEZ subject to submission of a comprehensive business/concept proposal determining clear socio-economic benefits;
  • Applicants that are Licensees ito Chapter 5 of the SEZ Act;
  • SEZ operators in terms of the SEZ Act and;
  • A registered entity in South Africa in terms of the Companies Act.
The Special Economic Zone Fund is effective from 1 July 2013 up to 31 March 2023.

The applicant will not qualify for the following costs:

  • Selected top structures where an investor has not been signed in the case of IDZ's established before the SEZ Bill is enacted to law;
  • Customized factory buildings for investors;
  • General infrastructure outside the zone;
  • Social and recreational infrastructure;
  • Residential buildings and office parks; and
  • Operational expenditure.
Each individual investment project will be considered on its merits through a holistic investment appraisal and due diligence process in determining an appropriate blend of:
  • Financial return and leverage from the economic success of each specific opportunity and;
  • Non-financial return in the form of the level of localisation, additionality, economic, environmental and social impact aligned with strategic SEZ priorities.
For private financiers, SEZ investor projects provide scope for participation in debt and equity financing arrangements to cover:
  • Top Structures (both generic and customised);
  • Machinery & Equipment;
  • Research & Development initiatives.
Upon meeting the criteria, and once the application is approved by the Adjudication Committee (AC) for funding, the Deputy Director General: Incentive Development and Administrative Division enters into a Funding Agreement (FA) with the applicant followed by on-going monitoring and impact analysis.

Enquiries and Applications for the SEZ Fund may be submitted to:

How to apply for consideration as a Special Economic Zone

Applications for designation of a zone as an SEZ, received from provincial/municipal authorities or Public Private Partnerships (PPP), are processed against defined criteria for recommendation by the Special Economic Zones Advisory Board to the Minister of the dti.

Once a zone has been designated and licensed and an operator permit issued through a tender process, all requests from an SEZ for funding of new infrastructure as set out in the funding guidelines, will be processed and monitored by the dti on a project by project basis. The following high level process will apply to applications for SEZ designation:

Once designated, infrastructure funding could be applied for and assessed for recommendation to the SEZ Board, if deemed viable and meeting the strategic intent and qualification criteria of the SEZ fund.

Once the applicant is approved by the Adjudication Committee (AC) for funding, the Deputy Director General (DDG): Incentive Development and Administration Division (IDAD) enters into a Funding Agreement (FA) with the applicant followed by on-going monitoring and impact analysis.

Enquiries and clarifications on the SEZ Applications Process may be submitted to:

Ms Mamonoko Seane
Deputy Director: SEZ Technical Advisory
Tel: +27 (12) 394 5251
Fax: +27 (12) 394 6251

Special Economic Zones Technical Advisory support

In order to create and retain sustainable and high impact SEZ's with a longer term funding and predictable funding dispensation, the SEZ team, also provides the following technical services;

  • SEZ application administration and governance;
  • Technical support to applicants on project finance and PPP options and guidelines;
  • Signposting for non SEZ fund requirements;
  • SEZ strategy review support and economic and social accounting analysis to maximise impact and minimize life cycle costs;
  • SEZ project management support;
  • Sectoral, value chain, technical and built environment assessment of all SEZ fund applications;
  • Advice on infrastructure improvement, maintenance and environmental considerations of SEZ's;
  • SEZ sustainability support and institutional benchmarking, best practice promotion and on-going SEZ portfolio oversight;
  • SEZ funding framework and model development; and
  • SEZ roll out and value for money audits and progress reporting on the socio economic impact of SEZ's.

Technical advisory clarifications and support requests may be submitted to:

Mr Hawie Viljoen
Director: SEZ Fund & Technical Advisory
Tel: +27 (12) 394 5754
Fax: +27 (12) 394 6754

Special Economic Zones Stakeholder Management

Considering the vast investment potential of SEZ's in South Africa, the dti is investing appreciates the significance of organising government relations between the public and private sector. It is important to understand the relevant economics, structures and processes to drive the SEZ and its successful implementation.

the dti is currently embarking on a comprehensive Stakeholder Engagement Program, with the purposes of ensuring the interests and cooperative governance of all interested and affected stakeholders to the Special Economic Zones Programmes are accommodated for.

The purpose of the SEZ Stakeholder Management Unit is thus to:

  • Analyse strategic primary and secondary stakeholders to the SEZ Implementation and critical success factors to implementation;
  • Understand the dti's goals and expectations and align stakeholders'critical mandates, missions, objectives and expectations accordingly;
  • Understand the operational ecosystems of critical stakeholders;
  • Develop a strategic decision making Intergovernmental Forum with the various Principals of the national departments and State Owned Entities (SOEs);
  • Develop and sign the Implementation Protocol for joint planning and coordination and investment promotion with all stakeholders;
  • Implement the SEZ development plan;
  • Develop the OSS Model successfully with their systems;
  • Conduct on-going monitoring and evaluation of roles, responsibilities, implementation Plan and objectives; and
  • Develop an effective stakeholder engagement strategy for secondary stakeholders, including communications, marketing, interaction workshops, online portal, public relations, customer surveys and feedback.

To register as a Special Economic Zones Stakeholder on the SEZ Database, kindly complete the Stakeholder form, and e-mail to:

Ms Lizzy Mashiloane
Assistant Director: Special Economic Zones Stakeholder Management
Tel: +27 (12) 394 1183
Fax: +27 (12) 394 2183

Important SEZ Related Links

For other Industrial Development Incentives and Financial Assistance offered by the dti and International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC), please click on this link or view the ITAC brochure here.

Contact Us

For any additional questions/enquiries regarding SEZ's, kindly contact: