Prime Minister Mandvulo Ambrose Dlamini is expected to grace the official opening ceremony of the Eswatini Economic Conference 2019 next week.

The two-and-a-half-day Conference jointly hosted by the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC), the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE), and the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) begins on October 23.

The theme for this year’s Conference is ‘Knowledge, Innovation, and Development in Eswatini: Current and Future Prospects’. Research papers under a variety of sub-themes will be presented and discussed to offer insight into how the country’s economy can be turned around to stimulate growth and come up with policy recommendations.

The Eswatini Economic Conference was established in 2017 through a collaboration between ESEPARC, CBE, and UNESWA. Its intended purpose is to bring together economic policymakers, researchers, development practitioners and partners, captains of industry, and other stakeholders to dialogue on economic policy issues in Eswatini.

The Conference provides a platform to discuss successes, lessons learnt, and to identify gaps preventing Eswatini from attaining its developmental objectives, including the implementation of the country’s development plans and strategies. Specific objectives of the EEC series include:

  • To promote policy dialogue and evidence-based policy planning and implementation;
  • To provide an environment to foster dialogue and the free exchange of ideas and innovative thinking amongst local researchers, policymakers, captains of industry, development partners, and the broader national, regional, continental, and international community in Eswatini.
  • To stimulate and increase research on economic and policy issues related to the development of Eswatini;
  • To provide an opportunity for Eswatini’s researchers, postgraduate students, and emaSwati in the diaspora, to disseminate research findings as well as share information with policymakers and the nation on the work they do relating to the country.

Following the inaugural Conference held in 2017, a consensus that emerged was the importance of preparing the Kingdom for the economic challenges emanating from the global economy as well as those from the region by boosting the roles of innovation, knowledge generation and management in its development. The Conference suggested that these themes should be pursued more vigorously in future conferences.

Hence, in this year’s Conference participants will be discussing the challenges and opportunities of knowledge, innovation, and development on the economy, with a specific focus on knowledge generation, technological innovation, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing.

Expected outputs from the EEC 2019 include a Conference Report that will summarise key findings as well as important policy recommendations extracted from the research papers and keynote speeches, as well as a special issue publication focusing on innovative articles of policy and operational relevance. Insights emanating from this interaction will help contribute towards the country’s attainment of Vision 2022, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Speakers include liSwati software engineer at Google LLC

Keynote speakers from various local and international institutions will lead the roundtable discussion and plenary sessions held during the Conference.

The speakers include Sakhile Dlamini, a software engineer at Google LLC in California, USA. Other keynote speakers are Dr Nokuthula Hlabangane from the University of South Africa (UNISA, Dr Abel Ezeoha from Ebonyi State University in Nigeria, Professor Chandraiah Esampally from UNESWA, NybSys CEO Moshtaq Ahmed, and Centre for Financial Inclusion CEO David Myeni.

Panellists for the plenary sessions and roundtable discussion include prominent figures in the public and private sectors, as well as representatives from development partners in Eswatini and youth organisations.

Opportunities for networking will be availed during a cocktail reception on the first day and dinner on the last day, where guests will enjoy performances by local artists including Floewe, an accomplished afro-soul singer and philanthropist currently working on a project for indigenous instrument players and the ‘donate a pad’ campaign.

More about the speakers:

Dr Nokuthula Hlabangane

Dr Hlabangane is a senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of South Africa (UNISA). As an African(ist) scholar who has had the fortune of straddling the divide between those traditionally studied by anthropology and being trained in the discipline, Dr Hlabangane is acutely aware of the stated and unstated politics of research.

Her ethics are about redress and restoration as she has a vested interest in decolonising knowledge. Hence, her analysis does not singularly dwell on local considerations nor global considerations. It is a conversation between the two, positioning it on the edges of both. She has written on subjects as diverse as social and epistemic justice, community and youth development, and knowledge production from an Afrocentric purview.

Dr Abel E. Ezeoha

Dr Abel Ezeoha is a Professor of Finance and holds parallel faculty positions in the Department of Economics and the Department of Banking and Finance at Ebonyi State University, Nigeria. He was a two-time visiting fellow at the African Studies Centre-Leiden, the Netherlands in 2015 and 2018, an Andrew Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2010/11) and a two-time Hobart Houghton Senior Visiting Research Fellow (2011 and 2019) at the Department of Economics and Economic History, Rhodes University, South Africa. He was also a CODESRIA Advance Research Fellow from 2009 to 2010.

Dr Ezeoha currently serves as a doctoral research supervisor in the Department of Economics and Economic History at Rhodes University and a postgraduate external examiner for the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Fort Hare. His research interests cover governance, economic reforms, and capital flows; and his geographical expertise covers Nigeria, South Africa, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr Sakhile Dlamini

Sakhile Dlamini is a software engineer at Google LLC. He has been working at the company’s headquarters in California for six years, where he has moved up the ranks from junior engineer to mid-senior engineer, which is the entry position for PhD graduates. Sakhile started his work as a software engineer on Google+ (the social network) and now works on GSuite’s account security. His responsibilities include designing, implementing, and deploying customer software.

Sakhile, who was born and raised at Gundvwini, completed his high school at Evelyn Baring where his academic prowess landed him in the national top 10 in the O’ Level exams. He was also awarded a scholarship to study at Waterford Kamhlaba and after completing the international bachelorette, he was awarded another scholarship to study in the United States, where he double majored in Computer Science and Mathematics at Colorado College. He is currently furthering his studies at Stanford University, majoring in cyber security.

Sakhile is involved in mentoring students in university, coaching them on interviewing at big tech companies like Google LLC. He is one of the founders of Young Climber, a non-profit focusing on youth development in Eswatini.

Mr Moshtaq Ahmed

Moshtaq Ahmed is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of NybSys and a group of companies that operate in eight countries on four continents. The companies are involved in large-scale project implementations in government technology, financial technology, the internet of things (IoT) with machine learning, national security and communication projects.

Moshtaq has over two decades of expertise in enterprise architecture, large-scale system design and development, including many e-government systems in Asia and Africa. His many innovative projects have made positive changes to the lives of many people.

His formal education includes a BBA and MBA from Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh and a Masters in IT System Management (ALM-IT) from Harvard.

Mr David Mfanimpela Myeni

David Mfanimpela Myeni is the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Financial Inclusion (CFI), a semi-autonomous wing of the Ministry of Finance that coordinates implementation of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) for Eswatini. The CFI’s mandate is to bridge the gaps between policymakers, regulators and financial institutions on access to financial services. Myeni has been instrumental in establishing and operationalising the Centre for Financial Inclusion. In 2017, he was Chairman of the SME Finance Working Group (SMEFWG) for the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).

He has a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Development Finance from the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa; a Master of Sciences (MSc) in Agriculture Economics from the University of Reading, United Kingdom and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Eswatini. Myeni has worked for several agencies including the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the European Union, World Vision, the United Nations Development Community (UNDP), the WK Kellogg Foundation Africa and GFA Consulting Hamburg.

Professor Chandraiah Esampally

Professor Esampally is a professor and Coordinator of the Academic Studies Unit at the Institute of Distance Education (IDE) at the University Eswatini, and also serves as a member of the university’s Senate. He is also Professor of Commerce at the Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University in India. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Commerce from Kakatiya University, as well as a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and PhD from Dr. B. R. Ambedkar Open University.

He has co-authored several books and has a number of research articles in commerce and in open distance education published in refereed and non-refereed journals. Professor Esampally’s areas of interest are in accounting and finance, as well as open distance education. Besides Eswatini, his academic assignments have led him to countries across the globe; the United States of America, the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, Mozambique, Jamaica, Italy, Brazil (Aracaju), Tanzania, and Namibia.