The second edition of the Eswatini Economic Conference (EEC) 2019 personified a nation united to seek collective solutions for economic development.
This Conference, whose theme was ‘Knowledge, Innovation, and Development in Eswatini: Current and Future Prospects’, comes after the inaugural one held in 2017 at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre.
From the first day on October 23, the hundreds of delegates from various sectors of the economy, who had congregated at Ezulwini actively participated in meaningful, honest, and interactive discussions to work together for practical solutions for the growth of Eswatini’s economy.
Director of the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Unit Meluleki Dlamini, who was one of the panelists at the Conference, also expressed his satisfaction with the rational manner that the Conference went about to try and achieve its objectives.
“The presentations have been quite beneficial and we are looking at how we can improve our intellectual capital out of this,” he said during one of the sessions.
Kuhle Dlamini from the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) travelled from Siteki on all three days just to sharpen her skills and carve her career path better through the knowledge sharing sessions.
“We are quite happy to be a part of such an event that has so many meaningful presentations that are free, such that even we as young people can access this very important information. My highlight was the FNB Seminar that helped me to understand better the role of technology in our everyday lives. The Conference has made me eager to play my part in the development of Eswatini,” she said.
Mavie Magagula, a delegate interviewed after a session on Financial Technology, also appreciated the platform to hear presentations on international best practices and applauded the work done at the Conference. He said his wish was that the recommendations put forward continue to be implemented for the development of Eswatini.
The Conference, according to Central Bank Governor Majozi Sithole, is held every two years. Speaking on behalf of the organising tripartite – the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC), the Central Bank of Eswatini, and the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) – in his welcoming foreword, he stated that the main purpose of the gathering was to provide a platform to discuss and fast track the materialisation of the knowledge economy which Eswatini can become.
Also in the crowd were recent UNESWA graduates, including those from Luyengo campus, who also wanted to find ways on how to apply the agricultural knowledge they had acquired to develop the country.
Testament to that, each of the papers and presentations from local and internationally renowned speakers delivered at the Conference stuck to the theme and also opened up for further inputs from the delegates.
The Governor said he trusts that every delegate would find value in the conference. “Special thanks goes to our partners who have supported the Conference, the members of our panel discussions, those who submitted research papers and the reviewers who provided opinions on the various submissions received,” he said.
The Conference also provided numerous networking opportunities for all during side events, assisting the various development stakeholders to know each other more and continue to develop the Kingdom of Eswatini.
‘Let us plug culture of innovation in every life area’
Eswatini can indeed strive in the knowledge and innovation spheres if all emaSwati plug that culture in every area of their lives.
This was the view of technology expert Moshtaq Ahmed, CEO of NybSys and DataNet, when responding to a question from Mike Drew, an Innovation Lecturer at Mananga Centre for Management Development, who asked what the country can do to improve its situation in as far as innovation is concerned and what would be practical solutions on that side.
“Sometimes I feel that we are not moving as fast as we have the potential to. So we need to plug the culture of innovation in every state of life around Eswatini, which will help us improve,” he said.
Moshtaq noted that the country is blessed with knowledge and has great potential for growth in the financial technology space. He noted that at one point Eswatini was in a very good ranking compared to its counterparts in terms of innovation and therefore there is no reason the Kingdom cannot return to that point through collaborated efforts.