The Right Honourable Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini has recognised that there needs to be more funding directed towards research and development projects.
The PM made this observation when officially opening the Eswatini Economic Conference (EEC) 2019 on Wednesday at the Royal Swazi Convention Centre in Ezulwini. He lauded the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC), the Central Bank of Eswatini, and the University of Eswatini (UNESWA) for continuously producing quality research, stating that government recognises the need for more funding towards national endeavours.
Underscoring the importance of research, the PM said it is needed to improve and sustain the different development projects which government has invested in across the country, which are aimed at empowering communities to improve their quality of life.
“It is research that will show us various new methods and technologies that can be applied to accelerate production and development in an efficient manner,” he said. “It is also important to note that the technological disruptions presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution have also come with developments in the financial technology (Fintech) industry.
“We have seen how mobile money has played a huge role in contributing to increased financial inclusion in Eswatini. Such technologies will allow the country to move up the financial services value chain. Research on the opportunities and risks presented by Fintech developments is also crucial.”
Noting some of the work done by ESEPARC, the PM highlighted a study conducted by the institution that recommends putting in place mechanisms to amplify private sector participation in the funding and performance of research and development.
The PM lauded the Conference invitation to celebrate outstanding research work done by emaSwati in addressing topical economic policy issues on how to stimulate economic growth and sustainability.
“This Conference comes at a critical time when research based and data driven information is crucial to informed decision making to help steer our economy in the right direction,” he said.
His Excellency also commended the three institutions for putting together this important knowledge-sharing platform to create space for economic policy dialogue between researchers, policymakers, captains of industry, development practitioners, and the public.
Government looking forward to Conference policy recommendations
Prime Minister His Excellency Ambrose Dlamini has assured that government considers contributions made at the Eswatini Economic Conference.
The PM said he is looking forward to receiving policy recommendations and is confident that these would go a long way in complementing and supporting the development initiatives made by government that are aimed at poverty alleviation and economic renewal of the country.
Prior to this assurance, he recalled the first Eswatini Economic Conference held in 2017 and how it emphasised the importance of preparing the Kingdom for the economic challenges emanating from the global and regional economy by boosting the roles of science, technology, and innovation, including knowledge generation and management in building a competitive economy.
“It was suggested that these issues should be pursued more vigorously in future conferences. It is therefore befitting that this year’s Conference is centred on current and future prospects of ‘Knowledge, Innovation, and Development in Eswatini’.”
How emaSwati can strive in Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Prime Minister has emphasised that locals need to embrace science, technology and innovation, as well as all other aspects of the knowledge economy.
He said he recognises that the fourth industrial revolution will have technology disrupt emaSwati’s way of life, how goods and services are produced, and how people relate to one another as individuals, countries and economies.
“Our lives and economy will be driven by smart technologies in our homes, workplaces and factories where machines will connect through the Internet of Things and Internet of Systems to interact and make decisions autonomously,” he said.
In order for emaSwati to strive, the PM called on the nation to embrace science, technology and innovation, and all other aspects of the knowledge economy. “For such noble intentions to materialise, Government will rely on fruitful partnerships such as this one where the public and private sector come together with ideas to accelerate social and economic development in the Kingdom.”
He further stated how government recognises the importance of creating the ‘Eswatini we want’ and thus building a competitive industrial base is key. He said this would require finding unique opportunities or value chains for industrialisation, prioritising Eswatini’s trade agreements, as well as operationalising Special Economic Zones.
“In essence, we are all here today to discuss ways of igniting the knowledge economy that Eswatini can harness at a time when the global economy is on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” added the PM.
He called on emaSwati to embrace the extent to which the country leverages knowledge and innovation as the cornerstone of the economic make-up to determine Eswatini’s pace on social and economic development.
“No one, and certainly no country, can afford to ignore or be intimidated by the 4th Industrial Revolution as it comes with many avenues for unlocking opportunities for our younger generations for many years to come,” he said.
Further, he encouraged delegates to diligently interrogate opportunities so that they can be brought to the forefront of the country’s economic policy discourse here onwards.
How Strategic Roadmap aims to stimulate economic growth
The Prime Minister laid out how the Strategic Roadmap launched this year would effectively create a path for innovation and sustained economic growth.
He said the Roadmap aims to, among other things, create the country’s footprint in the information communication and technology space. “The Roadmap precedes several other programmes initiated by Government to create a path for innovation and sustained economic growth. One of these programmes was the launch of the Royal Science and Technology Park, which is evidence of Government’s commitment to materialise the knowledge economy and improve the country’s capacity for innovation and competitiveness,” he said.
He emphasised that government commits to addressing structural bottlenecks that inhibit growth in order to boost investment, stimulate private sector growth, accelerate human capital development, achieve policy certainty and develop measures to shield the economy against global shocks.
“It is without doubt that only a stable macroeconomic and financial system can foster the required sustainable level of economic growth that will be achieved through investments, employment and increased production and productivity,” he said.
The PM highlighted that research and macro-forecasting tools employed by the Central Bank of Eswatini through its macro-prudential mandate will play a huge role in ensuring that the economy of Eswatini operates in a conducive macroeconomic environment.
He further acknowledged the Conference support received from national and international organisations, particularly the Eswatini Revenue Authority (SRA), First National Bank (FNB) Eswatini, the Royal Science and Technology Park (RSTP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Eswatini Communications Commission (ESCCOM).