Ezulwini, Friday, March 15, 2019: The Kingdom of Eswatini together with the European Union and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) have signed ta financing agreement of 1.2 million Euros for the construction of a modern multi-purpose Trade Hub in Manzini. The funds will also be used to provide private sector support to the country.
Minister of Finance Hon. Neal Rijkenberg and the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Hon. Manqoba Khumalo signed the document on behalf of the Government while COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe signed for COMESA. The Head of Cooperation at the European Union Office in Eswatini Ariane Labat signed for the EU. The signing ceremony was conducted in Ezulwini.
The Project will enhance the performance of the leather value chain, improve quality infrastructure services to support production and trade, and raise the capacities for investment promotion in the country.
Ministers Rijkenberg and Khumalo said the support will help develop the micro, small and medium trade by improving the quality of products, marketing skills and find bigger markets. The Project will also help the country attain the required economic transformation for the betterment of the people of Eswatini.
“The construction of the Trade hub locally known as ‘INHLANGANISELA YABOMAKE’ will bring relief to majority of handcrafts most of whom are women and youth. They currently operate in the open in back yards spread across the country,” Minister Khumalo said.
The Trade Hub is expected to accommodate 300 traders and impact over 400 businesses. The focus will be on women and youths bringing young and old together.
The new facility will also protect the artisans from unfavourable weather conditions which makes it difficult for them to operate. Minister Khumalo added that bringing them under one roof will enhance the capacity of government to offer support services, improve collaboration in procurement, production and marketing. The cost of extension support will decline significantly as technical support officers will meet the critical mass of handcrafts in one place.
Secretary General Kapwepwe commended the Kingdom of Eswatini for consistently participating in regional integration frameworks as a way of enhancing its trade performance in the COMESA region.
“This project preserves the Kingdoms’ unique culture by pulling on the knowledge of the gatekeepers of Eswatini traditions while applying modern technologies and designs that are attractive to an international market,” Ms Kapwepwe added.
The project is consistent with COMESA Market Integration Strategy, which is anchored on trade and investment and is key to assisting countries realise structural transformation. The strategy provides for market integration, infrastructure development, industrialization, science, technology and innovation pillars.
EU Head of Cooperation Ms Ariane Labat assured his organization’s commitment to continue supporting regional integration programmes and commended the Government of Eswatini for its decision to establish modern infrastructure for small-scale traders.
“The Trade Hub is a significant Project for Eswatini. It will improve the environment for MSME production and trade capacities for creation of jobs and growth,” Ms Labat said.
COMESA has provided Eswatini with over three million Euros from 2013 – 2018 under the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF) and with support of the EU through the Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM).
Programmes supported under RISM include the free trade area, the customs union, resolution of non-tariff barriers, harmonization of standards, trade in services, investment, competition policies transport and trade facilitation policies.