SPEDU, a company limited by guarantee, is a regional economic diversification agency under the Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI), set up to drive transformation of the greater Selebi-Phikwe region into a vibrant economic zone. Ambitious plans and strategies have been developed to achieve such a goal in a region that faces challenges in creating meaningful and sustainable employment, diversifying the local economy from mining, and improving the standard of living and household income levels.
Located in Eastern Botswana, the SPEDU region is an economic zone with a population of about 200,000 (2017 estimate of Statistics Botswana). The Region is located in the Central District of Botswana comprising four (5) geographical areas of Bobonong, Lerala-Maunatlala, Sefophe, Mmadinare and Selebi Phikwe East and Selebi Phikwe West.
The town of Selebi Phikwe is surrounded by 52 villages, including rural settlements, and is located approximately 400 kilometres north of the capital city Gaborone. Selebi Phikwe serves as the commercial nexus of the SPEDU Region. The town is home for 49,411 people, making up approximately a quarter of the entire population of the Region.
The SPEDU Region is strategically located in Botswana and in the broader Sothern African Development Commission (SADC) Region. SPEDU Region serves as the gateway into northern side of the SADC Region through well-developed networks of roads, rail, air and commercial border infrastructure. It also conveniently connects Botswana with the South African seaports, notably the renowned port of Durban through an excellent network of roads and a number of borders notably Platjan and Martins Drift boarder post.
The economy of the town of Selebi Phikwe and its rural hinterland historically relied on copper/ nickel mining and smelting since the inception of the town in the early 1970s. In order to diversify the economy, the Government of Botswana set up the Region as a Special Economic Zone with the intention to support industrialisation through the economic sectors of Tourism, Manufacturing and Agri-Business. This is in recognition of the inherent comparative advantages of the Region evidenced by availability of ample surface and underground water resources. The Region is the home of five of the country’s major dams, the Thune Dam, Letsibogo Dam, Lotsane Dam, Dikabeya Dam and Dikgatlhong Dam. The Region also boasts highly fertile soils and a climate conducive for agricultural, especially horticulture production. The availability of land for industrialisation in Selebi Phikwe and the Region, infrastructure resources, abundant natural attractions, flora and fauna, natural resources such as granite, sandstone, marble and silica sands open up opportunity for industrialization.
SPEDU mandate has recently been reviewed, with the intention of its revision, to enable the company to be a valuable transformational agent. The mandate also needed to be reconfigured to allow the company to create its own revenue and income.
SPEDU’s primary mandate is to carry out business as a regional economic diversification agency, that facilitates, invests in and implements sustainable economic projects for job creation and social upliftment opportunities for the region.
SPEDU’s constitution outlines its high-level objectives, interpreted as follows:
- Diversification of the economy of the region.
- Undertaking business and investments in select bankable projects to generate own funding.
- Promotion of investment, the attraction of investors, and facilitation of trade.
- Development of strategic infrastructure in the region.
- Identification and facilitation of the development of skills for economic participation.
- Insurance of all community opportunities for economic participation.
- Attraction and procurement funding for the development of the region.
- Conduct business in line with good governance protocols.
National Government Agenda
SPEDU similarly aligned its Strategic Plan to the overall national Government Agenda to ensure sustainable economic development through:
- Enabling Ease of Doing Business in the SPEDU region
- Promoting Botswana’s Global Competitiveness by facilitating the region to become a globally competitive special economic zone;
- Facilitating the growth of SMMEs and the informal sector through facilitation of SMME growth;
- Promoting Good Governance and Accountability by upholding governance standards;
- Public Service Productivity and Performance through the achievement of strategic goals and SPEDU objectives;
- Achieve Food Security by focusing on the Agriculture sector and its entire value chain; and
- Employment Creation through facilitation of projects that create sustainable employment in the Phikwe region.