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17 September 2018
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Newsletter n° 102 [ENG]

The law on Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Madagascar :
a voluntary surrender of national sovereignty.
Will the President-Candidate dare promulgate it ?

The law on Special Economic Zones, which has been rejected (sincerely or opportunistically) by different entities, has been declared constitutional by the High Constitutional Court (HCC), after modification of some points disputed by this institution before. The promulgation of the law, meaning its blessing by the President of the Republic, is the last step before its final adoption. Civil society organizations - CRAAD-OI and Collectif TANY - would like to highlight that it would be more reasonable and in the interest of all, including the President- Candidate and his close colleagues, for this law not to be promulgated at all, neither before nor after the elections.

1 / Land grabbing and the loss of national sovereignty remain in the law.

The final version of Law Nº 2017-023 containing the modifications is now available to the general public on the National Assembly’s website. (1)
Without going into the details of all the articles, some examples will show that the changes made

  • in no way modify the danger of the law for the livelihood of local communities who possess and use land that will have to be abandoned in favor of SEZs. Article 6 now fixes the minimum area of an SEZ to 100 hectares, but the law still does not talk about a maximum limit of the area of SEZs.
  • continue to endanger national sovereignty since Article 17 still mentions that "the competent authorities may, however, delegate to AZES some of their attributions" and allows the transfer of State prerogatives to private or even foreign entities. This delegation will be done "by a regulatory act made by the concerned Administration" instead of being "[specified] by Memorandum of Understanding", the latter formulation having attracted criticism from the HCC.

The exposition of motives at the beginning of the law contains arguments intended to seduce and convince investors, highlighting all the benefits that will be offered to them. The only objectives presented that could be associated with benefits for Malagasy are, on the one hand, "to stimulate economic growth" which does not guarantee any improvement for the majority of the population (2), and on the other hand "to favor job creation ", the number and the quality of the jobs granted to Malagasy people being debatable given previous experience, especially concerning their level and their stability (3).
Articles 24 and 29 underscore that, in addition to those mentioned in the law, ZES investors and companies will have other rights, which will be "set out in the approval granted to the SEZ investor".

2 / Serious questions arise on the separation of Malagasy territory into several "SEZ States".

According to Articles 59 and 73, "the SEZ area" is designated as a "customs area outside the national customs territory" and "any goods of Malagasy origin dispatched from the national customs territory to any customs area is deemed to be an export." "The regulation, administration and promotion of SEZs in Madagascar are entrusted to a regulatory Authority of SEZs," the famous AZES, which "has a legal personality and enjoys administrative and financial autonomy."

The new version of the law added in article 10 quoted above that the Board of Directors of this SEZ will be composed of 14 members including 6 members from the private sector and 8 representing the President of the Republic and respectively various ministries. As these representatives are very likely to be followers of this voluntary surrender of sovereignty, this detail does not change the will to achieve an "apartheid" in the form of separate development (4) on Madagascar’s soil.

Foreign states that are already sure to take advantage of this unhealthy opening are China, with whom the current President of the Republic "signed a preliminary agreement on the allocation of a Special Economic Zone on March 26, 2017” (5), as well as Mauritius with which Mr. Hery Rajaonarimampianina also signed a memorandum of understanding on March 14, 2016 for the creation of a special economic zone in Madagascar especially in the Ehoala Park (6). "This partnership could help boost the investment and expansion of Mauritian groups on the Great Island (7)" wrote a journalist.

A Conference on Strategic Investments in Northern Madagascar was held in February 2018, followed by a visit to the Andrakaka site in Antsiranana / Diégo-Suarez. According to media "Twenty investors [...] participated in this conference with the presence of operators from La Reunion, Mauritius, Malaysia and Dubai. Some Chinese companies involved in port and airport construction were also on site." (8)

In recent months, strongly encouraged by international organizations (9) whose many councils have not demonstrated their effectiveness in the economic development of the majority of Madagascar’s people so far, several African countries have implemented SEZs with the proposed help of Mauritius or China (10).
How far will Malagasy leaders and decision makers kneel before foreign investors ? How many hectares of homeland territory will be sold at a very low price (11) to attract their favor in the face of competition from other countries to seduce and attract Foreign Direct Investment when present infrastructures do not prove to be worthy, education and training have been neglected during these last 15 years and the level of insecurity of goods and people inspires no confidence ?

This policy is only a mirage. Let’s not forget that the Ehoala Park, managed previously by a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto Company, has failed to attract investors, despite an unacceptable drop in the amount of land rent, while locals who lived there in a decent way from fishing and livestock were expelled in 2009.


In the current stage of the debate on the law on Special Economic Zones, we stress that there is still time to stop the implementation of this voluntary accession to the status of colonized country, if the current President of the Republic, the one who will soon be interim President and the one who will be elected in November do not enact the law.

We reiterate that the choice of society promoted by the SEZs is contrary to the interests of the majority of Malagasy people and it risks making the sovereignty of the State of Madagascar disappear forever.

Other "big projects" can and should be envisaged to improve the living conditions, the work and the income of the Malagasy population without offering to others, on a plate, the lands that ancestors have developed and handed down that current and future generations should inherit.

August 29, 2018

CRAAD-OI : Centre de Recherches et d’Appui pour les Alternatives de Développement - Océan Indien ;

Collectif pour la défense des terres malgaches – TANY ;



(4) ; et




(9) ;

(10) https://www.e-conseil-assist-office... ; ; ; ;

(11) article 29 :
3) [...] For emphyteutic leases, the fees are due per ten-year period on the cumulative amount of ten (10) years of rent. However, they may be paid in one installment for the duration of the lease at the option of the parties and according to the terms of the contract.
 4) The developer is subject to the state fee. It is applied the floor price per square meter following the
 region of implantation of the SEZ.