HARARE, April 17 (The Source) – Zimbabwe requires $18 billion to rehabilitate its run-down infrastructure and attract more foreign direct investment, a United Nations expert said on Thursday.
“If basic internal infrastructure needs cannot be met, even generous fiscal incentives will not be enough to attract and retain investors in the zones,” Amarakoon Bandara of United Nations Development Programme told delegates attending a conference on Special Economic Zones.
“Delivering hard and soft infrastructure inside the zones effectively and integrating them with the domestic market must be a priority.”
Bandara said poor infrastructure was a common hurdle in Africa’s quest to attract investment and business growth.
“Poor road connectivity and serious port-related delays undermine competitiveness and discourage investors. Infrastructure in Zimbabwe is on average 30 years old and requires about $18 billion for modernization,” Bandara said.
“Most problematic is hard infrastructure, but soft infrastructure, especially in relation to customs and trade facilitation, is also an important determinant of success or failure.”
Bandara said financing of SEZs should not be a burden on the rest of the economy.
“Persistent financial burden on the rest of the economy could undermine development outside Zones and thus the net benefit of SEZs could in fact fall short of the cost for the economy as a whole,” he said.