Working Paper
Special economic zones and transnational zones as tools for Southern Africa’s growth

Lessons from international best practices

The paper evaluates strategies for developing successful special economic zones and transnational zones for Southern African countries to spur growth and employment.

Most special economic zones implemented in Southern Africa have largely failed to bring adequate growth and employment due to numerous constraints. Globally, selected countries have successfully implemented export-oriented industries through such spatial industrial policy.

We review case studies across the world by comparing different regions on selected indicators related to the best-practice framework developed through this study. The framework represents the five key components of successful special enterprise zones, namely: institutional arrangements; running (operational) framework; expansion framework; attaining/achieving framework; and reflection/review mechanisms.

We identify best practice and review the implications for implementation and sustainability strategy in Southern Africa. The main findings point to unique lessons from international best practice on the establishment and operational strategy for zones and opportunities for transnational zones.