Dongo Kundu SEZ, The Future For The Coastal Economy
By Kelvin Inanga
When smart phones were introduced in the market at a fair price, something we didn’t expect happened; many people were rendered jobless. It became a challenge for many people who owned the then popular Kodak Photo Studios, where you would go for a photo and had to go back after three days to collect it.
Many businesses closed. However, those who were keen to re-invent themselves survived. Those who choose to upgrade and adapt to technology, bought powerful cameras 1000 times better quality than the ones on our smart phones and moved away from the Kodak shops mentality, to instant executive photoshoot, have survived and are reaping big rewards.
Whilst I support that moving port operations has damaged the coastal economy, I challenge our leaders to think on the competitive advantage that Mombasa has, and focus on the sea, which can not be moved.
With that in mind, I believe the hope for Mombasa is the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone. This is the next big thing. Probably bigger than the Port itself. Therefore, our leaders need to shift their energy there and demand the President, CS Macharia and the CEO SEZ authority to fast track it’s completion.
The success stories about the economic impact of SEZs located near seaports around the world are well documented.
First, SEZs position economies in a better position to attract capital investment, advanced tech adoption that ultimately precipitates local production capacity.
Example of an industry with untapped but ripe potential is the blue economy. The Dongo Kundu SEZ can attract investment for sustainable exploitation of the ocean’s resources such as fish processing.
Second, the Zone would provide local companies with a pedestal on which to target new markets. Since Special Economic Zones provide social infrastructure and investment incentives, especially tax incentives, local companies can expand to new markets or partner with bigger brands to enjoy economies of scale.
Example is light manufacturing, where Chinese companies are outsourcing production lines to offshore companies due to rising industrial wages. Local manufacturers therefore can fight for these investments that Ethiopia has been benefiting from.
Thirdly, the human capital. In the many economies where Special Economic Zones have been established, the Zones have not only created employment opportunities but also attracted investment in skills development, making workers competitive and more productive.
I choose to believe Dongo Kundu could very well be the future.