On 20 November 2020, EU Ambassador to Eswatini, Esmeralda Hernandez Aragones, along with two Cabinet Ministers – Minister of Economic Planning and development, Dr Tambo Gina and the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Manqoba Khumalo, signed the project’s Financing Agreement at an event held at Bethel Court at Ezulwini.
Speaking during this event, Ambassador Hernandez Aragones said the objective of the project was to assist with the achievement of a private sector-led economic recovery in Eswatini, which also empowers women and the youth.
“The EU is committed to support and facilitate a permanent dialogue between the government and the private sector so as to improve the business environment in this country,” said the Ambassador.
This project will particularly aim to strengthen public-private dialogue on the ease of doing business and the competitiveness of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) by supporting the development of a State-Business Relations Secretariat in Eswatini. The Secretariat will serve as a forum where the government administration and the private sector can work towards a common understanding on the main business barriers and how to facilitate the necessary changes with regard to the regulatory framework and the skills mismatch effecting businesses in Eswatini.
Furthermore, the project will help boost investments from the EU in Eswatini as well as improve access to the EU market for Eswatini companies.
“The Eswatini private sector plays a crucial role in economic development as a major source of national income, job creation and investment. That is why the EU is committed to contribute to the private sector development in the country. The EU considers the private sector as an important partner and the engine of inclusive and sustainable growth,” Ambassador Hernandez Aragones added.
In their response, Minister Gina and Minister Khumalo both hailed this EU support, saying the project was one of many the EU was implementing in Eswatini, cutting across all sectors of the economy. The Ministers said, because of its massive investment in Eswatini which is still ongoing, the EU was the foremost development partner of the country.