Mbabane: Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) have broken down how the Post COVID-19 Kingdom of Eswatini Economic Recovery Plan is going to be implemented.
Speaking during the launch of the Eswatini Post COVID-19 Kingdom of Eswatini Economic Recovery Plan held at The Royal Villas, Ezulwini, Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Thabo Sacolo said the economic recovery plan has to be inclusive, particularly in terms of the youth and women. Sacolo said the plan will focus on big projects from eight sectors, namely; Tourism, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Wholesale, Manufacturing, Energy, Textile and Government Projects.
The Recovery Plan consists of 97 projects that are ready to be implemented within 18 months beginning as of July 1, 2020. The projects will inject a total of E30 123 billion into the economy, creating 40 126 jobs for recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Tourism sector is reported to have proposed for 4 projects valued at E466 million and will see a creation of 345 jobs. The sector is requesting E20 million stimulus package from the government to keep business afloat. In terms of big projects, the tourism industry will attract investment across the country, which includes an amusement park in Buhleni, an aquarium at Maguga lodge, trails and backpackers in Mhlambanyatsi, and an Eco-lodge in Malkerns.
The agricultural sector as the backbone of the economy has proposed 21 projects worth E5.361 billion. These projects will create employment opportunities for 6,040 emaSwati. These projects will include the various agricultural value-chains such as the staple food maize, dairy, forestry, baby vegetables, citrus, banana, poultry, and the fisheries industry.
The infrastructure sector proposes 16 infrastructure projects worth E4.016 billion that will facilitate trade and enable the private sector growth. A total of 2,191 construction and permanent jobs will be created within 12 months. These projects range from construction of earth dams, corporate head offices, railway infrastructure, depots, and extension of electricity and telecommunications networks.
The Wholesale and Retail Sector will pursue 6 projects worth E2.206 billionin various parts of the country including Mbabane, Ezulwini, Manzini, Nhlangano, Mhlambanyatsi, and Bhunya. E2 billion investments will go into the construction of a shopping mall in Manzini and the balance of the total investment will be channeled towards the construction of three filling stations, and a shopping Centre in Pine Valley, Mbabane. In total, 1,870 jobs will be created through these projects.
The manufacturing sector comprises of 22 projects that will expand existing manufacturing companies as well introduce new products that can be consumed locally as well as exported to increase GDP. Manufacturing investment will amount to E6.537 billion creating 4,610 jobs.
These manufacturing projects include, but not limited to expanding the sugar industry for value addition to produce various sugar products, manufacture of pharmaceuticals through RSTP, production of fridge components, and a Kellogg’s factory to manufacture noodles and other food products, leather factory for the manufacture of industrial protective clothing, the refurbishment of former Swazi Paper Mills for the manufacture of craft paper,cardboard, etc., and a Lubombo Industrial Park for the manufacture of soap, pharmaceutical, and assembly of cars as well as an ethanol enrichment plant. It is worth noting that the manufacturing sector will benefit from the largest share of investments out of the Recovery Plan, so that the sector will be well-positioned to drive the country’s growth as per the objectives of the Eswatini’s Strategic Road map 2019-2022. A majority of these projects will take place in Matsapha – the industrial hub of Eswatini.
The energy sector is one of the most important inputs for economic growth. Since economic activity will be increasing in other sectors, a sustainable supply of energy is necessary. This sector proposes 9 projects worth E3.747 billion that will provide the much needed energy security to stimulate economic growth. These projects mainly consist of solar plants (varying in size), a biomass Energy Plant, Refinery, and an oil reserve. In total, 750 jobs will be created through these energy projects.
The textile industry is also earmarked to contribute significantly on job creation. Over and above the expansion of existing investments, the textile industry will also expand into rural Eswatini to create employment opportunities for rural people in their localities. In total, the textile sector will invest E1.202 billion to create the largest number of jobs compared to all the other sectors, that is, 11,900 jobs for emaSwati in Bhunya, Nhlangano,
Mhlabanyatsi, and Matsapha. An increase in textile production will help the country take full advantage of the United States of America (USA)
African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) as well as attract spin-off industries around the textile economic zones.
The Government of Eswatini will invest E7.055 billion comprising of 13 projects that will enable private sector investment and expansion. These projects include earth dams to allow the production of food in various rural communities in Eswatini, construction of factory shells in key strategic areas to establish FDIs, an upgrade of Bulandzeni-
Pigg’s Peak-Bulembu road to facilitate growth of the Tourism Industry and completion of the Nhlangano-Gege-Sicunusa road. In total, these Government projects will facilitate for the employment of 12,420 people. Also to improve the standard of living in the country, Government will be constructing a National Referral Hospital to provide tertiary care under different health specializations. Government will also ensure the settlement of arrears to restore healthy cash-flow into the economy, especially for the MSME sector.