STATEMENT BY THE RT HON PRIME MINISTER
DR B.SIBUSISO DLAMINI
AT THE SWAZILAND AND ISRAEL DELEGATION BUSINESS SEMINAR PROGRAMME
AT ESIBAYENI LODGE, MATSAPHA
WEDNESDAY 5 APRIL 2017
His Excellency Ambassador of Israel
Chief Executive Officer of Swaziland Investment Promotion
Representatives of the Private and Parastatal Sectors
Senior Swaziland Government Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my honour, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, to welcome you all to this Swaziland and Israel Delegation Business Seminar Programme. We extend a very special welcome to Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk and the Israeli delegation that he has brought to our country. May I take the opportunity, through Ambassador Lenk, to once again thank His Excellency Prime Minister Netanyahu and the people of Israel for the wonderful hospitality shown to myself and the Swazi delegation during our visit to Israel in December last year.
Today’s event is not only a seminar, but it is also a seminal moment in the development partnership between Swaziland and Israel. The partnership itself does, in fact, go back a very long time to Swaziland’s early post-Independence years. And there has been a productive continuum of cooperation between our two countries ever since. Israeli institutions have provided training to Swazis in agriculture, health and the development of the small, medium and micro-scale enterprises sector.
But I use the word “seminal” about today’s gathering because this is the dawn of a new and exciting phase – a turbo-boost to the existing partnership! In that partnership we have one country whose leaders are determined to enhance the knowledge and skills of its people, and to reduce poverty by creating many more sustainable livelihoods. The other partner is a country resolute in its programme to share its renowned expertise, and broaden its friendship among African countries. Easy to work out which country is which. On the face of it a perfect fit, and an enormous potential win-win.
And what I particularly like about this new initiative is the visible commitment to progress, exhibited in the first instance by the sheer pace at which everything is moving. I visited Israel in December 2016 and here, only three months later, we have a high-powered, multi-skilled Israeli team in our country, primed and committed to helping us, inter alia, to learn and use their advanced technology and engineering capabilities to upscale the level of production, especially in the area of adding value to primary products.
It is, of course, testimony to the enormous and broad-ranging resourcefulness of the people of Israel that the delegation is a multi-faceted initiative. With us are Netafim, the world-renowned drip irrigation innovators, as well as groups taking to the next level the arrangements for a new hospital in Manzini and the substantially increased bursary scheme for Swazis in education, community health, agriculture and innovation. Only yesterday we were honoured with the donation of the lightweight and low-cost wheelchairs, invented by Israeli entrepreneur Pablo Kaplan, which assist the disabled to obtain education through greater mobility.
This business seminar should also serve as a dynamic platform for exploring trade and investment opportunities, to create trade flows between our two countries. We welcome the investment by Israeli enterprises in our economy. I draw the attention of the relevant delegates here today to our significantly enhanced business environment. You come as we are about to launch our Special Enterprise Zones which, to qualifying investors, offer a 20 year corporate tax-free entitlement. That is ground-breaking and very competitive. We, the Kingdom of Swaziland, are a country with access to substantial market configurations within the growing African market and the new Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union offering our companies duty-free and quota-free access to EU markets. Our video has informed you on this.
In short, I can assure you that Swaziland is a marvelous country in which to invest. Ask any existing investor. We are confident in what the response will be. Indeed, I ask the private sector companies here today to interact vigorously with the visiting business delegates from Israel.
As a country we are determined to be responsive to the technological, economic and social changes as they emerge. The ICT sector is one whose development His Majesty’s Government has prioritized into the medium term. The imminent completion of the Royal Science and Biotechnology Park is evidence of our commitment to that strategy, and we expect it to be the hub of substantial future investment in the relevant categories.
But, of course, no country in the world is without its challenges. On the Swazi side we need to find a solution to the shortage of public sector financial resources, especially in implementing all the high-impact agricultural techniques so ingeniously developed by the Israelis. To the Israeli nation we do express our fervent hope that it can find a fair and balanced solution to its political challenges, to usher in a future of assured peaceful co-existence in that region.
The spirit of harmony is so clearly evident in this new Israel/Swaziland initiative. I take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Lenk and his delegation for making the journey and taking our development partnership to a new level. To all Swazis involved, let me ask that there be no slowing down of momentum. This is a wonderful opportunity for us. Today is the time for dynamic interaction, tomorrow the time for action. There must be a clear and closely monitored programme to reflect that.
You will all go from here to a networking lunch. Please ensure that the vigorous activity of networking leaves no time for eating!But, seriously, those ninety minutes, and your one-on-one sectoral meetings this afternoon are vital in the process of taking this exciting development partnership to the next level. In the afternoon sessions, which will be more sector-specific, there will be the opportunity for detailed discussions, unencumbered by plates, knives and forks. Each session will have a representative of our Swaziland Investment Promotion Authority to assist in providing additional information or clarification.
We do hope that our visitors will find time to see something of our beautiful country while remaining alert to the enormous number of tourism development opportunities. And if there is insufficient time to do so during this visit, please place an exploratory tourism-oriented visit to Swaziland high on the list of priority activities for the future.
On behalf of His Majesty’s Government I give you all our best wishes for dynamic interaction and a sustained momentum to this upscaled partnership. To our guests from Israel I thank you most sincerely for visiting Swaziland and extending your great generosity to our people, and I wish you a safe journey home.