“The Kingdom of Eswatini continues to use its resources and capabilities to expand investment opportunities for both foreign and local business, as part of our national strategy for socio-economic growth. We spare no effort in our drive to access and secure international markets for our products as we see this to be a crucial link to the global economy.” His Majesty King Mswati III
On April 19, 2018, Eswatini celebrated its golden jubilee since independence, and King Mswati III’s 50th birthday, with the King’s announcement that the nation would be adopting its pre-colonial name. In doing so, he confirmed the nation’s commitment to a new beginning; a mission previously kick-started by his 2017-2022 Vision focusing on making Eswatini a first world nation by driving ICT, tourism, agri-processing, manufacturing, energy and mining sectors. In alignment with the spirit of the Vision and in an unprecedented fashion, a new prime minister was then appointed a few months later, via a three-day People’s Parliament, Sibaya. Prime Minister, Ambrose Dlamini’s private sector mindset has been key in providing the appropriate shift required by the NDP and in putting together a new cabinet whose policies and reforms are driven by the provision of an innovative enabling business environment for investors and SMEs. “The private sector prioritises efficiency. Fifty percent of the assets under our supervision are going to provide the environment to attract FDI,” states Sandile Dlamini, CEO of Financial Services Regulator Authority (FSRA). New legislations have since been set up to ensure rapid company registration and trading licences through e-platforms. “We have the basic economic infrastructure needed to attract international investment,” elaborates Dumisani J. Msibi, Group Managing Director of Fincorp.
Initiatives to spur the growth of ICT have been crucial in leading the way to rapid economic growth. “We need to invest in ICT, because it is going to be the engine for social-economic growth and key to growing national GDP,” explains Petrus Dlamini, MD of EPTC. The banking sector has partnered with fintechs to upgrade expertise and innovation. “The banking sector is a catalyst and big contributor to the GDP,” adds Fikele Nkosi, Nedbank’s MD.
Eswatini’s E240 million Royal Science and Technology Park was conceived and launched with the aim of providing a location for governments, universities and private companies to collaborate in advancing innovation, development and commercialisation of technology through a one stop facility. “Using technology to enable people to do business is the future of the industry,” asserts CEO of Standard Bank, Mvuseleo Fakudze.
Opportunities abound within Eswatini, with trade and touristical routes literally pushing Eswatini’s boundaries via railway tracks, the King Mswati III International Airport and new highways. Hon. Ndwandwe, Minister of Public Works and Transport elaborates: “Considering Eswatini’s land-locked status and strategic location between Mozambique and South Africa, the transport sector plays a pivotal role in ensuring accessibility and efficient movement of goods and services within the region, strengthening a regional logistics-hub position for the country.” Huge investments have been made to connect Eswatini to Mozambique and South Africa. “Geographically, we have an advantage, because to the south of this country you have one of the biggest cargo ports in Africa,” explains Stephenson Ngubane, CEO of Eswatini Railways. On the other hand, major construction company, Inyatsi, is currently building a strategic highway connecting South Africa through to Mozambique via Eswatini’s airport. “Infrastructure drives the growth in any country and Eswatini has always been on the forefront of road development,” declares Group CEO of Inyatsi, Tommy Strydom.
Also crucial to national growth and development is the government’s prioritisation of its energy sector, aiming to be power sufficient by 2034 by harnessing the nation’s vast resources for renewable energy, such as biomass, bagasse, hydropower, solar and wind. CEO of Eswatini’s Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA), Vusumizi N. Mkhumane confirms: “We want to improve our power producer base, having a more cost-effective power delivery.”
As the nation’s largest industry and fourth-largest sugar producer on the continent, sugar cane grew 735,000 tonnes of sugar in 2017/18 alone. In order to support and sustain its sugar belt, and other crops, the government has implemented climate adaptive initiatives: Komati Downstream Development Project (KDDP), Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project (LUSIP), as well as LUSIP II which will enlarge available irrigated farmland for local smallholders. Samson Sithole, CEO of ESWADE states: “We have the opportunity at ESWADE to move people from traditional agriculture to commercial agriculture; we want them to produce and to feed the world.”
Key to the nation’s ability to fulfil its vision is its highly educated population, and its commitment to progress and ancient customs. But ultimately, according to Prime Minister Dlamini, “peace and stability is the main glue that holds us together as a nation and has allowed business to flourish.”