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Speech by the HON. MINISTER FOR FINANCE, MP, NEAL RIJKENBERG 

at the official opening of the Procurement Indaba 2019

Tuesday 05 November, 2019

Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre, EZulwini.

 

Members of both Houses of Parliament 

Chairman of ESPPRA

ESPPRA Board

CEO of ESPPRA;

Principal Secretaries 

Chairpersons of portfolio committees from various Ministries;

The CEOs present here today;

Senior Government officials

Representatives of social partner formations;

Experts and Academia in the procurement sphere;

Developmental partners

Esteemed entrepreneurs and investors;

Members of the Media;

Ladies and gentlemen

Good Morning to you all

1.    It is indeed an honour for us to be part of this grand gathering of fellow citizen and developmental partners where we are gathered to engage on how we can continue to use procurement as a tool for “accelerating economic recovery, growth and sustainable development through strategic public procurement and public private partnerships (PPPs)”. I am enthusiastic to notice such a number of participants in this great event.  It surely promises to be the success that it was planned to be.  

2.    Programme director, it is not an overstatement to speculate that, at times like these, we cannot afford to come here with either the sole purpose of protecting our respective turfs or scratching the surface but we are here for the simple reason that procurement, as a function, is a critical lever for our radical economic transformation efforts. Therefore, our gathering here for the next two days is not necessarily about the discussion of procurement at a theoretical level but about ensuring that, we optimally utilize procurement to breathe life to our ailing economy for the betterment of all Emaswati. 

3.    In this regard, we cannot afford to limit our engagement to the realm of our current reality, but to open our minds to the scope of that which exists beyond our reality to consider what is out there and to possibly improve on that to find out what could work the best for our unique environment and country. This Indaba is, therefore, a call for all of us to rethink the way we have been doing things. But, we must all admit that the current vehicle that is procurement has not delivered on the potential that it holds. 

4.  Ladies and Gentlemen, the very fact, for example, that the Eswatini public sector in the year 2017/2018 spent about E14 billion which accounts for 22% of the GDP to procure goods, works and services should make it automatic, given our developmental approach and the transformational pieces of legislation and policies, that Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises would thrive. The marginalized majority of our people should be drawn into the mainstream economy and we should see more and more people getting out of poverty. It is the task of this gathering not only to look at the root causes of this disconnect between the huge public sector investment and the slow emergence of successful entrepreneurs, but also to come up with workable and sustainable solutions to fixing it. 

5.Procurement has been identified as one of His Majesty’s Governments priority areas if we are to seriously reverse the current economic state of affairs.  This is so because government and public entities combined are a major procurer of goods, services and works in their quest to provide social benefit to the people of Eswatini and grow the economy.  I therefore want to challenge you distinguished delegates to have robust deliberations on how government can improve efficiency and effectiveness of the procurement system to achieve our national economic objectives. 

6. We are pleased to note that the private sector is also part of this Indaba and they will also share with us some of the creative and innovative approaches they have adopted to ensure that procurement takes forward the objectives of the National Development Strategy and the Eswatini Government Strategic Roadmap 2019-2023. In particular, we need to know how SMMEs and businesses benefit from public sector procurement. 

7. It would be amiss of me not to express my greatest appreciation for the support that the World Bank Group and Multipronged. our partners and sponsors have afforded us to ensure that the event is a success. 

8. Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now declare the Procurement Indaba 2019 officially opened. 

Statement by Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina,

President, African Development Bank Group, at Eswatini, September 2, 2019.

Sani-bo-naani ! (Good morning)

Good morning everyone!

I would like to first thank his Royal Majesty, King Mswati III for the honored invitation to visit Eswatini. And I would like to thank the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and Governor of the Bank, Mr. Rijkenberg, and the whole of the government of Eswatini, for your very warm welcome and hospitality since my delegation and I arrived here two days ago.

BEAUTY OF THE NATION**

Eswatini is a beautiful land. Eswatini is a blessed Nation.

Who would not want to come to the land well surrounded by rolling hills, with splendid sceneries?

Who would not want to visit such a land that is full of beauty, proud of its culture, sensitive to its history?

Who would not want to visit a Nation full of determined and generous people - who live in their own land, the land of their ancestry: proudly renamed the land of the “Swazis”!

I am glad that I did not visit Swaziland. I am glad to visit Eswatini- the land of the Swazi’s!

THE AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK IN ESWATINI**

The African Development Bank - your Bank- has been your partner since you joined the Bank in 1974. That’s 45 years of development partnership. And it’s a partnership that has produced significant results.

The Bank has provided financing of $590 million to Eswatini.

Our current portfolio is $238 million, covering various sectors especially, water and sanitation, energy, infrastructure and agriculture.

And you can feel the impact of the work of the African Development Bank in Eswatini.

Yesterday, I traveled to see Lower Usuthu Smallholder Irrigation Project II, which was supported with $61 million by the African Development Bank.

The project is amazing!

There the ESWADE project - the Eswatini Water and Agricultural Development Enterprises project is transforming lives.

The Minister of Finance and Minister of Agriculture were all smiles - and for good reasons!

**Over 11,000 ha of land has been irrigated, supporting over 3000 farmers of which 41% are women. Farmer companies have been formed, producing sugarcane. I was amazed with the impacts: jobs have been created, wealth creation is visible.

**The project has impacted 20,479 people who have benefited from the project, including over 11,673 men and 8,806 women.

**The farmer-managed businesses are working successfully: 40 out of the 55 sugarcane farmer business companies have paid back their loans fully and the rest are on track.

**Households with regular income have risen from 9% to 20%. Employment has risen from 46% to 71%.

I saw Nicholas Tshotsho - a highly educated manager- who said he was hired by the one of the farmers companies, LNL, to help them package their bananas and find markets.

When farmers are rich enough to hire their own managers, that is great success!

I saw the African Development Bank at work as we travelled on the Mbadlane - Mansini road that’s funded by the Bank to the tune of $48 million.

We are upgrading this road with another $30 million for the Mansini-Mbaslane Interchange that’ll further ease transport.

Our support of $24 million to the Fincorp is helping to provide much needed finance for small and medium sized enterprises.

And our support of $23 million for the Ezulwini Water Supply and Sewerage is helping to provide much needed water and sanitation.

And just last year the Bank approved the Mansini Regional Water Supply and Sanitation project for $50 million.

All these projects contribute to the goal of Eswatini to drive inclusive growth. However, challenges exist that we must continue to work together to resolve.

MACROECONOMIC ISSUES***

 

The biggest challenges are to grow the economy faster and contain budget deficits.

I highly commend the Prime Minister and the cabinet team for their determination and resolve to put the nation, under the inspiring leadership of His Majesty King Mswati III, on a path towards economic recovery and faster paced growth.

The African Development Bank will continue to strongly support Eswatini government’s efforts to build strong macroeconomic and fiscal environments to drive faster paced growth.

There is a lot to be done. Growth is very low, with GDP growth of 1.1% in 2019, down from 1.8% in 2018. Greater efforts are needed to diversify the product and export base of the economy, expand manufacturing, boost tourism and service sectors and reduce volatility from over-reliance on SACU receipts.

The Bank welcomes, has and will continue to strongly support efforts of the government on fiscal consolidation and public financial management.

To drive growth, there’s need to also significantly improve private sector investments. The African Development Bank will strongly support more private sector financing in the country. The Bank just held a business opportunity seminar with Business Eswatini in May 2019, to explore how to provide more support.

Strong public debt management will continue to be needed. While external debt is not a problem and is sustainable, standing only at 27.8%, domestic debt has risen substantially, now accounting for 62% of total debt - most of this from payment arrears.

I’d like to commend the government for its commitment to clear arrears by the end of 2019: a bold move.

Equally important is the need to significantly reduce the very high recurrent expenditure as share of total budget - at 75% - and boost greater capital expenditures to ramp up growth.

There’s need to address structural challenges on the economy, especially high levels of poverty, unemployment especially for the youth.

The African Development Bank will strongly support efforts to expand jobs for the youth. We will launch programs to provide access to finance and economic opportunities for women in Eswatini.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE**

Eswatini has big ambitions - and it should! African countries must never think small. Though a small Nation, Eswatini must do big things!

One of those big things is to turn this Nation into an industrial hub for manufacturing, ICT and agribusiness.

That’s why the African Development Bank is highly supportive of the National Development Plan (2019-2022).

The Bank is looking forward with you. We will be developing together, our new Country Development Strategy that’ll run from 2019-2023.

The Bank has already lined up a pipeline of projects worth $528 million.

I am especially keen to have the Bank support the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones across the country, to help the Eswatini to develop world class food and agribusiness processing capacity, create wealth and jobs, and transform its rural economies to zones of economic prosperity.

The Bank will be supporting the Eswatini railway project that’ll help with regional integration and competitiveness.

To help provide more electricity, the Bank is supporting the feasibility studies for the 94MW Ngwenpisi Hydro Power plant. That’ll further make the country bright!

There’s no doubt that the future for Eswatini is bright. For this Nation must shine. It must shine like a star in the middle of the night. It must be all it can be. For it is destined to be a great Nation.

You can be sure that the African Development Bank - your Bank- will be there with you all the way.

The African Development Bank is achieving great impact in the Southern Africa region. We’ve provided over $13 billion to support SADC countries. And every dollar invested by the SADC region in the Bank has leveraged $19 for the region. With more support, the Bank will do even more to accelerate the development of Eswatini and the rest of the SADC region.

I wish to therefore, thank His Majesty, King Mswati III, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the government of Eswatini for your strong support for the General Capital Increase for the African Development Bank.

You can count on the African Development Bank. You can count on me as it’s President to continue to strongly support Eswatini. And you can be sure that there’ll soon be an office of the Bank right here in Eswatini!

Siyabonga!

African Development Bank Business Seminar

The African development bank has stretched out its hand to the private sector and civil society. The bank which has offered funding to Eswatini since 1974 in support  of the country’s development agenda has now opened its door to fund the private sector. The assistance from the bank has gone into several sector s which include agriculture, finance, transport, energy, governance and water and sanitation. Contacts between AFDB personnel and Civil society or private sector representatives has in the past been limited and there is a need for such interactions to be strengthened. The objective of the Business seminar which was hosted by Business Eswatini in partnership with the Ministry of finance, was to present the Bank’s financing products and instruments not only for government but for captains of industries and entrepreneurs in the kingdom in support of the country’s socio-economic development. “The seminar will provide the necessary opportunity for Government policy makers, private sector and entrepreneurs to get a better understanding on how to access the Banks financing products and instruments” stated Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg. Eswatini private sector is a primary generator of exports and provides 70% of formal employment opportunities, emphasizing the importance of government’s continued support for its growth and integration into the formal sector. AFDB Southern African Deputy Director General Dr. Josephine Ngure encouraged the private sector to take advantage of AFDB’s presence to explore ways in which it can benefit from the bank’s wide array of financial products. She further mentioned that the private sector is a central part of Eswatini’s development agenda and that the Bank is fully confident that the government is fully committed to ensuring that the potential of the private sector contribution is fully realised. Dr Ngure Mentioned that the seminar occurred at a defining moment in the history of Eswatini following the successful holding of legislative elections in September 2018 and the appointment of a new private sector oriented Cabinet in November 2018. Business Eswatini CEO Nathi Dlamini encouraged the business community to fully utilise the opportunity availed by the AFDB and that it was important for the private sector to play its role in socio-economic development of Eswatini’s economy.              

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