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Africa Economic Brief - Chinese Special Economic Zones: Lessons for Africa


This brief analyzes 35 years of Chinese special economic zone (SEZ) development, identifies Chinese SEZs’ success factors and challenges, and provides recommen da - tions to Africa for successful implementation of SEZs. The impact of Chinese SEZs on national development has been impressive. Its insightful application was a critical factor for triggering a period of quick industrializ - ation, which in turn enabled China’s recent success history of economic transformation. SEZs acted as experimental laboratories for testing new approaches towards enabling economic transformation – including export oriented products and foreign and joint venture partnerships.

The brief proposes options for Africa to capitalize on China SEZs’ lessons. Identified factors and lessons that are applicable to Africa include: the need that SEZs development has to be integrated into an overall economic reform agenda, the central role of the Government’s commitment to reform, the adequate selection of location and SEZ size, the need for an open policy environment as well the selection of an appropriate development model and the availability of quality infrastructure, and efficient financing mechanisms to ensure an open and competitive market economy.

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