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HomeAgriculture, Forestry, FishingThe Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone can be a continental leader

The Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone can be a continental leader

The CEO of the MMSEZ, Lehlogonolo Masoga, explains how the SEZ’s unique combination of strategic location and local resources can bolster the industrialisation plans of both South Africa and SADC.

Please comment on the location of the MMSEZ in terms of regional trade and logistics.

The SADC North-South Corridor connects the South African port of Durban to Lusaka (Zambia) and Lubumbashi (DRC) through Johannesburg and Gaborone (Botswana). The Beitbridge Border Post is the second-busiest port of entry in South Africa and handles a significant number of trucks, averaging about 500 per day and about 1000 passenger vehicles per day within the North-South Corridor.

The transportation system in the SADC region comprises an integrated road, railway and port system principally serving regional transit traffic. The transformation of the traditional transport corridors into development corridors, or Spatial Development Initiatives (SDIs), represents a landmark achievement for SADC’s long-term development. The concept of development corridors is to view the major transport routes from the sea ports to the hinterlands that they serve not merely as transport, but economic corridors with activities related to agriculture, industry, commerce, communications and tourism.

The MMSEZ aims to become a leading innovative, sustainable and inclusive high-tech African gateway city, driven by residents and visionary investment within a prosperous rural-urban integrated region and operating as a highly-connected freight, warehousing, logistics, transport, retail and manufacturing industrial hub supporting the SEZ within a super-efficient Gauteng-Limpopo-Zimbabwe economic corridor. The Musina-Makhado region is a regional development anchor and exists along a key national road, the N1.

MMSEZ, artist’s impression. Credit: MMSEZ

What facilities are intended to leverage this factor?

The development of the Musina-Makhado Corridor is a function of multi-party stakeholders across various spheres of government. Among the key stakeholders is the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) which has already invested over half-a-billion rand in the construction of the Musina Ring Road and the continuing rehabilitation of the N1 freeway between Musina and Makhado. The Department of Home Affairs, through the National Border Management Authority, has launched the first phase of providing 24/7 border patrol units while working on a plan to roll out the One-Stop Border Post. The MMSEZ is involved in ongoing discussions with various players to partner for the development of the Inland Dry Port to move cargo from land to sea and vice versa.

Please comment on the expected impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The MMSEZ has all the features to become a leading African Continental Free Trade Area project in view of the growing interest for intra-Africa trade collaboration. The ambitious goal of creating an inland dry port in Musina has the great potential of becoming a game-changer in the movement of cargo from across the Limpopo River to global destinations, taking advantage of the road to rail and sea intermodal infrastructure already operational in Musina.

The MMSEZ SOC has entered into a partnership with the Musina Intermodal Terminal (MIT) for the use of the existing facilities to promote regional trade. With the plans afoot to develop a regional airport, the town of Musina will soon become the melting-pot of economic activity for the SADC region and beyond.

How does the MMSEZ fit into the various regional and provincial planning initiatives?

The Limpopo Development Plan 2020-2025 and Medium-Term Strategic Framework identify nine priorities, which include:

  • Transformation and modernisation of the provincial economy
  • Integrated and sustainable socio-economic infrastructure development
  • Spatial transformation for integrated socio-economic development
  • Economic transformation and job creation through regional integration

These policy priorities reinforce the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone business case in line with the vision of the provincial administration. A successful MMSEZ will result in South Africa’s active participation and leadership in the AfCFTA, and in SADC’s industrialisation strategy.

An artist’s impression of the new bridge over the Limpopo River. Credit: MMSEZ

Are new rail links planned?

The MMSEZ is working closely with Transnet to develop the enabling infrastructure to support the two sites of the SEZ. A plan is underway to conduct a feasibility study to determine the infrastructure requirements for the MMSEZ, including the associated costs implications.

What is meant by a “catalytic” project, and how does the MMSEZ qualify for that title?

In economics terms a catalytic project is the one that spurs change and triggers multiplier spinoffs. An example is the OR Tambo International Airport and its effect on the Gauteng economy. In the same way, the MMSEZ is likely to become catalytic to the economy of Limpopo.

What sectoral strengths in the Limpopo economy are reflected in the location of the Musina-Makhado SEZ?

Limpopo is renowned for being the bread basket of the country due to its abundance of agricultural resources. Our province is also an undisputed home of platinum group metals (PGMs), chrome, diamonds and other mineral resources. Limpopo Province, supplemented by the Musina-Makhado Corridor, is the real passage and gateway to the rest of the continent. Our SEZ is located at the busy Beitbridge Border Post, with great potential to become a new inland dry port. 

Similarly, the development of a medium-size fresh-produce market in Musina to service the inland and cross-border markets will go a long way in boosting the agriculture sector by supporting local farmers to penetrate regional and global value chains. The Musina-Makhado Corridor represents a strategic breeding ground for some of the most sought-after fresh produce and exotic fruits. With the road-to-rail infrastructure at our disposal, we are well positioned to participate in global value chains.

Limpopo is renowned for being the bread basket of the country due to its abundance of agricultural resources.

Do you see the concept of a “Smart City” which you are rolling out for the MMSEZ as something that could have a bigger impact?

By 2050 more than two-thirds of the world’s population is likely to live in urban areas. To ensure that this trend is managed, it is necessary to plan the future. This future is being enabled by technology built in one corner of the world that can easily be transported to another corner, often with the click of a button. This is called frontier technology – the intersection where radical forward thinking and real-world implementation meet. We are pleased that from the very beginning, our SEZ will embrace technology and become smart through the investment by our technology partner.

The MMSEZ Smart City Framework will have a lasting impact on Limpopo with a corridor of smartness from Polokwane to Beitbridge. Within this corridor there will be nodes that impact on settlements and economic activity. In addition, this corridor will extend and form part of the Gauteng City Region footprint in a real and dynamic way and extend to Zimbabwe, thereby contributing to an integrated and prosperous Africa. 

Lehlogonolo Masoga

Lehlogonolo Masoga has more than 20 years of experience as an administrator and public servant, most recently as Deputy Speaker of the Limpopo Provincial Legislature and MEC for Roads and Transport. He served as the spokesperson for the former LEDET MEC and Minister of Public Administration the late Mr Collins Chabane.

Lehlogonolo holds three Master’s degrees: Governance and Public Leadership (Wits), Development Studies (Limpopo) and an MSc in Leadership and Change (Leeds Beckett University, UK). He has B-Tech HRM from UNISA and a professional diploma in Humanitarian Assistance from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (UK) and is currently a registered PhD candidate in Public Administration.


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