SEZs and Entrepreneurship Development

in partnership with AEZO
Session Type
Session Themes
Special Economic Zones
Room number
Hall 3 Room 10-B
Contact Email
17 October 2023
14:00 - 15:00 Abu Dhabi

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are an important policy tool for the promotion of investment, employment generation, and innovation. The number of SEZs worldwide exceeds 5000 and counting. Traditionally, SEZ policies have focused on the attraction of foreign investment, and preferably large-scale industrial investment. However, there has been an increasing interest in leveraging SEZ policies to support local firms, and in particular micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMES), both in and around the zones. Adding an entrepreneurship development and MSME support dimension to SEZ policy frameworks can help increase spillover effects of SEZs to the local economy and it can increase the attractiveness of SEZs for international investors by strengthening a local supplier base.

This session, organized in partnership with the African Economic Zone Organization (AEZO) will showcase effective policies and programmes supporting local entrepreneurs in and around zones across Africa. It will discuss challenges and opportunities and aim to identify replicable initiatives that can benefit SEZ authorities and developers around the world.

Session themes:

  • What are the key challenges in promoting local entrepreneurship and MSME development in and around special economic zones?
  • What policies, programmes and initiatives have proven to be most effective in supporting local entrepreneurs in and around SEZs?
  • How can various government institutions, including business development agencies, IPAs, and SEZs, work with private sector organizations and development partners to maximize the positive impact of SEZs on surrounding economies?


Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Free Zones Authority
Chief Executive Officer, Moai Investments Brazil
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Dana Communications Ltd
Chief Executive Officer, EasyParcel
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Luanda-Bengo Special Economic Zone (SEZ)
Managing Director and Partner, Boston Consulting Group
Assistant General Manager, Nigeria Economic Zones Association (NEZ Association)