The Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC) has engaged Conningarth Economists (South Africa) to capacitate parastatal and government economists, planners, and analysts on cost-benefit analyses.

The training on the Theory and Application of Cost-Benefit Analysis as a tool for Multi Criteria Decision Analysis forms part of ESEPARC’s mandate to build capacity for research and policy analysis within Eswatini in order to ensure a performance driven workforce and leadership for the country’s future growth. The objective of the training is to explain the theory underpinning cost-benefit analyses with the purpose of project evaluation to enable participants to apply these techniques in undertaking financial assessments of a project or programme.

Welcoming the participants, ESEPARC Executive Director Dr Thula Sizwe Dlamini said this particular training is critical given the ever-changing economy of Eswatini, which renders it increasingly important for the country to develop human capital with the capacities and capabilities to govern and manage institutions in a manner that reflects the preferences of the nation in an efficient and cost-effective way.

“We need to get a clear understanding of the cost-benefits of projects our government embarks on. It is a good thing that we are in a transition stage where a new government will be coming in soon, hence it is a good time for us to upskill and re-skill ourselves for the future growth and development of Eswatini,” he said.

Dr David Mullins, Head and Founder of Conningarth Economists, added that it is important to evaluate all projects in terms of their financial and economic implications to ensure that national funds are optimally spent.

He explained that cost-benefit analysis is an approach used to quantify the costs and benefits that emanate from a particular project and to evaluate the project accordingly, hence it is a useful tool for economists and analysts to have. “Cost-benefit analysis is something that should be done; we should spend our funds in a cost-effective way and cost-benefit analysis is a good tool to use in this regard,” he said.

Participants attending the four-day training which began today (September 17) include economists, planners, and researchers from the Ministries of Economic Planning; Finance; Commerce, Industry and Trade; Public Works and Transport; Agriculture; Deputy Prime Minister’s Office; Central Bank of Eswatini; Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority; and ESEPARC.

The training is funded by the Aid Coordination and Management Section (ACMS) under the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development.

About Dr Mullins

Dr Mullins is the head and founder of Conningarth Economists. From 1974 to 1989, he was head of economic research for purposes of compiling the Economic Development Programme (EDP) for South Africa. This programme’s quantitative work entailed the extensive use of macro econometric models, Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA), Input-Output Tables (I-O), and the Social Accounting Matrices (SAMs).  He then moved to private consulting, making use of his acquired expertise to specialise in economic analyses, economic policy, as well as project evaluation.

His experience with regard to CBA can be seen from the fact that he acted as chairman of a government committee which was appointed to compile the first manual for CBA in 1987 for South Africa. This manual was later updated by him in the capacity of project leader in October 2002.