Free Trade Zones

Oxford Business Group and Organization of African Economic Zones launch landmark analysis


New policy report, produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the Organization of African Economic Zones (AEZO), highlights the continent’s rapidly developing industrial sector, which is fast becoming a key driver of wider economic growth as a region integration increases.

Entitled “Economic Zones in Africa – Policy Report”, the report was launched at the 6th Annual Meeting II of AEZO, which took place on November 25 at the office of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. (ZLECA) in Ghana, with participants also able to attend remotely.

The meeting was held under the banner of “Connecting African Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to Global Value Chains in the AfCFTA Era” and explored a range of topical issues relating to SEZs, their potential for development. boost trade to the impact of Covid-19 on the continent’s supply chains.

The synthesis report examines the many benefits that AfCFTA is expected to bring to African economic zones and the businesses therein, ranging from better market access to lower trade barriers and lower production costs.

The disruption that the pandemic has brought to supply chains and the opportunities resulting from the health crisis for companies to be part of emerging regional value chains on a more closely connected continent are a key objective.

The report also describes the digital transformation underway in many economic zones in Africa, as companies move away from traditional segments to adopt high-tech processes and digital services, thereby adding value to their offerings.

In addition, it provides an in-depth analysis of the demonstrated desire of many SEZs to place environmental, social and governance principles and sustainable business practices at the heart of their strategies, at a time when ethical investment and alignment with the United Nations sustainable development The goals are high on the global agenda.

The report includes in-depth case studies and views from representatives of key industry players, namely: Tanger Med; Polaris Parks; Lagos free zones; Ghana Free Zones Authority; Misurata Free Zone; and Sebore farms.

It also includes a contribution from AEZO Secretary General Ahmed Bennis in which he underlines the role that SEZs play in the industrial transformation of the continent and the importance of supporting their development.

“Economic zones can play a decisive role in the diversification and inclusion of Africa by providing end-to-end solutions and services that support industrial upgrades and increase the attractiveness of countries for investments”, did he declare. “With the implementation of the AfCFTA and the post-Covid-19 recovery that the world is starting to experience, we believe that real investment opportunities exist in Africa right now, which can translate into job creation. and social and economic development. Africa has resources that need to be developed and economic zones can play a key role in this regard.

OBG’s regional editor for Africa, Bernardo Bruzzone, added that while African economic zones had experienced production problems during the pandemic due to disruptions in the global supply chain, corrective measures are underway, including new infrastructure and the development of human capital would help build resilience to future external shocks.

“Africa’s real GDP growth is expected to reach 3.4% in 2021, with increased intra-regional trade and improved connectivity between enablers of economic recovery,” Bruzzone said. “For the future, we consider that the economic zones have a key role to play in helping the AfCFTA to realize its potential through the development of new strategies which will lead to a more diversified range of exports with higher added value.

The study is part of a series of bespoke reports that OBG is currently producing with its partners, as well as other highly relevant research tools, including a range of articles and interviews on growth prospects and recovery specific to each country.

The focus report is now available for viewing and downloading at:

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About Oxford Business Group

Oxford Business Group (OBG) is a global research and consultancy company with operations in over 30 countries, spanning Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas. It is recognized internationally as a distinctive and respected provider of field intelligence to the world’s fastest growing markets, called The Yellow Slice, in reference to OBG’s corporate color.

Through its range of products – Economic News and Views; Surveys of OBG CEOs; OBG events and conferences; Global Platform, which hosts exclusive video interviews; and The Report publications – together with its Advisory division, OBG provides comprehensive and accurate analysis of macroeconomic and industry developments for investment opportunities and sound business decisions.

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