Special Economic Zones (SEZs), or free zones, are an increasingly popular policy instrument aimed at attracting investment and inducing structural change. They are geographically defined areas designated by the government where regulations are designed to be more favorable to business than at the national level. The main goals of the creation of SEZs are, inter alia, the facilitation of foreign direct investments, the diversification of exports, and the creation of job opportunities. However, do SEZs meet those expectations and can they therefore be seen as an effective instrument for growth? The 16th PEGNet Policy Brief examines this question with a particular focus on Africa.