A new cohort of graduate researchers has joined the Swaziland Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (SEPARC).

The three interns join the Centre under a graduate research programme administered by SEPARC, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The 12-month internship programme follows the successful completion of the 2016/17 Graduate Research Programme which saw five researchers producing studies that were presented at the Swaziland Economic Conference 2017.

Two of the papers; ‘Mapping the National System of Innovation in Swaziland’ by Tengetile Hlophe, and ‘Assessment of the Economic Costs of Electrical Power Outages in Swaziland’ by Tanele Magongo, won the first and second prize, respectively, for best conference papers.

Speaking at the certification ceremony of the 2016/17 graduate researchers last year, UNDP Resident Representative Mr Israel Dessalegne said this initiative has been part of the 2016-2020 Country Document Programme (CDP) theory of change aimed at ensuring that evidence generation to inform national policy reform and programmatic significance is facilitated.

SEPARC Executive Director Dr Thula Sizwe Dlamini said the programme had achieved its objectives; that is, offering graduates the opportunity to acquire practical experience in policy analysis and research work, as well as undergoing intensive on-the-job training to build their capacities in research skills, personal development, and leadership.

He expressed hope that the programme would continue to achieve its set objectives, and that it eventually becomes global, particularly through SEPARC’s interactions with the University of Arkansas’ graduate students who have also been doing internships at the Centre.

Meet the 2017/18 Graduate Research Programme interns:

Nompulelo Dlamini

Nompulelo has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science (Economics and Statistics majors) obtained from the University of Swaziland. She has worked as a Data Analyst for the Swaziland Tourism Authority; a Demographic Researcher at UNFPA; a Data Capturer and Validator at the Management Development Institute; and as a Data Collector for Active Quest, the Swaziland Competition Commission, SWADE, Ministry of Health, and the Swaziland Electricity Company.

Her research focus at SEPARC is in the area of teenage pregnancy and inequality in Swaziland. Nompulelo is currently working on a study on ‘The Impact of Teenage Pregnancy on School Dropouts Among Secondary School Girls in Swaziland’. The study aims to determine the extent to which teenage pregnancy contributes to schoolgirl dropouts in Swaziland; to investigate the factors predisposing high school girls to teenage pregnancies; and to investigate the levels of re-admission of girls who discontinue school due to pregnancy.

“Through the graduate research programme at SEPARC, I am hoping to achieve strong research and leadership skills, as well as a solid foundation that will help me pursue my research career to Master’s level,” she says.

Nhlanhla Zulu
Nhlanhla holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. He has previously worked as a Data Capturer at the Ministry of Home Affairs.

His research focus at SEPARC is in the area of poverty reduction and inequality in Swaziland. Nhlanhla is currently working on a study on ‘Inequality of Opportunities in Education in Swaziland’, which hopes to assist develop a clear policy and strategy to tackle inequality in the country. The study aims to identify sustainable and viable strategies which seek to eradicate inequality and improve human development in Swaziland. It is hoped that the study will be successfully integrated into the development policy agenda in support of the national Vision 2022.

Asked what he seeks to achieve through the graduate research programme, Nhlanhla says: “By the end of the programme, I hope to have built an innate capacity in policy analysis and research, and to become an expert in inequality issues, as well as to have developed a solid base in policy analysis and research which would enable me to build a successful career in research”.

Maqhawe Zwane
Maqhawe has a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management obtained from the University of Swaziland. He has gained experience as an Enumerator at World Vision and MTN Swaziland; and a Business Development Intern at SWADE (LUSIP).

Maqhawe’s research focus at SEPARC is in the field of financial inclusion. He is currently working on a study on the ‘Impact Analysis of the Small Scale Enterprise Loan Guarantee Scheme (SSELGS)’ whose main objective is to assess if the presence of the Scheme has had any positive influence on the operations/performance of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector and the economy. The study seeks to identify SMEs that have benefited from the Loan Guarantee Scheme, as well as to evaluate the performance of these SMEs. It seeks to also investigate other possible factors hindering SMEs from accessing loans.

“On completion of the programme, I hope to have become proficient in conducting accurate and quality research under minimum supervision thus enhancing my leadership skills. I also hope to develop the professional competencies and experience needed for future advancement and career success, as well as to utilise – to the best of my ability – the knowledge I shall acquire as I work with other researchers at SEPARC and to find a professional mentor in the field of research. I hope to accomplish challenging, but realistic, responsibilities, and create a lifelong network as the internship at SEPARC has given me the opportunity to interact with other professionals, so I hope to gain new connections and learn how to communicate in a professional environment,” says Maqhawe.