Honourable Ministers
United Nations Resident Coordinator - Ms Nathalie Ndongoh-She
UNDP Resident Representative ad. interim – Mr Lars Tushuizen
All Heads of UN Agencies
Principal Secretaries
Board of Directors of the Royal Science and Technology Park
Chief Executive Officers of the Royal Science and Technology Park and Standard Bank Eswatini
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased to join you at this launch today. I am particularly delighted to see the youth and adults, the representation of all genders and the collaboration between Government, the private sector and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

When His Majesty King Mswati III introduced the concept of a Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP) in the Kingdom of Eswatini, He was inspired by the impact of research, innovation and technology on the quality of life of people around the world and advancement of economies. During the Official Opening of Parliament this year, His Majesty reiterated that Information and communication technologies (I.C.Ts.) can be a vehicle for economic development as the country position’s itself for Vision 2022. I.C.Ts have played a major role in bringing a range of services to our society faster and cheaper compared to a decade ago and the country needs to continuously innovate in this area in order to uplift the lives of the poor and improve the competitiveness of the economy. I.C.Ts are also enablers of advancement in other technologies and business.

The business incubator at the Royal Science and Technology Park was established to cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship and thereby contribute to job creation and wealth creation in the country. It targets technology start-ups that were previously unserved by business development programs in the Kingdom of Eswatini. These are start-ups that are either producing technology or using technology in a unique way to solve real problems facing humanity or industries or Government in any of the following areas:

  • Information and communication technologies;
  • Electronics;
  • Biotechnology
  • Food and agriculture;
  • Health and cosmetics;
  • Renewable energy; and
  • Environmental preservation.

Such start-ups differ from traditional small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in two ways. Firstly, they plan and manage a process of designing, developing and testing the technology or product while also planning how to become a repeatable and scalable business. Secondly, they often spend some time delivering a solution to users or potential customers, with very little internal resources, without earning revenue. This happens because of their need to prove that the unique solution delivers benefits outside the testing environment yet first users usually do not want to pay them. These ventures are known for their high growth potential, contribution to industry diversification and wealth creation but their long product-to-market journey makes them unattractive to lending institutions at the early stages. This creates a huge challenge for every Government that seeks to stimulate job creation and wealth creation through innovative enterprises.

Therefore, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the United Nations Development Programme for aligning itself with the development objectives of the country by providing a financial facility that will close the gap between business ideas and resources available to the youth, women and people living with a disability. It is wonderful to see the banking sector, in this case, Standard Bank Eswatini, playing an active role in closing this gap too.

The target beneficiaries in this Project are the most vulnerable in our society hence empowering them economically will have a direct impact on their welfare. I am happy to learn that the Project will offer much more than training as it will result in the matching of upcoming entrepreneurs with advisors and mentors and connection with broader networks. This is a comprehensive capacity building approach that can reduce the failure rate of new ventures. I trust that the beneficiaries will take advantage of this initiative and develop their skills in order to develop their products within a short time and create bankable businesses.

The priority sectors chosen for the Project will stimulate the creation of eco-friendly technologies and other solutions that will contribute towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals in our country and beyond. Climate change is threatening humanity’s access to safe and reliable drinking water, nutrition and sufficient food, affordable energy and other resources. We have to actively seek solutions to these problems while ensuring that actions do not cause more and irreparable harm to our environment. Therefore, these risks present opportunities for innovation.

I am aware that market access for new or unique solutions can be a bottleneck to the growth of start-ups. I would like to request my colleagues in government to take the position of ‘enablers’ of innovation and help the country to achieve its development targets. It will be necessary to relax certain laws, within specific limits, in order to allow inventors and start-ups to carry out tests in the real world in order to prove the efficacy of their technologies and other solutions. This can be done in a number of ways, for example by creating simple rules to govern the testing of new or unique solutions and waiving licence fees for the pilot period. Once testing is successfully completed, the Government should be flexible in its procurement approach like in other neighbouring countries and give local start-ups an opportunity to supply solutions that can result in efficient and affordable service delivery. Such will make the private sector to be amenable to become first users of solutions that can enhance productivity. Solutions from this country will be more likely to enter regional and international markets and compete successfully once the start-ups have built a track record in the local market. If current laws and mindsets remain unchanged, young people entering the job market are unlikely to gain employment through their ventures.

In closing, I would like to request the management of the Royal Science and Technology Park to be thorough in implementing and monitoring this Project. Your success in delivering the objectives set out will have a direct effect on the welfare of EmaSwati.

Once again, let me express my joy in receiving this financial support today from the United Nations Development Programme. I pray that you will continue to support innovation and entrepreneurship in the Kingdom of Eswatini in the future years to come.

I now declare the Project titled “Enhancing Innovative Capacity for SDG-solutions Project” officially launched.

Thank you.

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