The Economics Association of Eswatini in Collaboration with UNDP Hold their 7th Seminar

By Avite Mbabazi

The Economics Association of Eswatini (ECAS) held its 7th seminar under the theme The Impact of Russia-Ukraine conflict on Eswatini- Assessing Its Nature, Extent, and Policy-Response.

Participants at the seminar included various policymakers, academics, development partners, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and economists from the public and private sectors.

The seminar’s objective was to initiate an informed discussion of the implications of the Russia-Ukraine conflict for Eswatini. The event took place yesterday at Mountain View Hotel in Mbabane.

Panelists included Nathi Dlamini, CEO of Business Eswatini, ECAS vice president Ms. Khange Dlamini, representatives from the Central Bank of Eswatini and the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC), as well as speakers from the Ministry of Economic Planning & Development.

Making his remarks at the event, ECAS President Professor Mike Matsebula opened by alerting participants to the nature of discussions that would take place. “The discussions that we have at ECAS are open and we try to be as transparent as possible, and we are not aligned with any particular force, we are simply economists who are grappling with issues that are of importance to many sectors of the country’s economy.”

Meanwhile, UNDP economic advisor Mr. Souleman Boukar who was representing the UNDP Eswatini Resident Representative, outlined that food security remains one of the biggest challenges that has resulted from Russia-Ukraine. “We know that Eswatini is a net importer of cereals mostly maize and rice with imports satisfying three-quarters of domestic consumptions and thus suffered the rise in commodity prices following the Ukraine-Russia war” he stated.

On the other hand, Sifiso Mamba, Chief Economist from the Ministry of Economic Planning and Development who spoke on behalf of the Principal Secretary of the aforementioned ministry stressed that Eswatini is an open economy that trades significantly with other countries, as a result, the country’s economy will always be exposed to external shocks.

He further added that the domestic economy has seen a rise in the costs of production due to the high cost of intermediate inputs, particularly fuel.

The discussions were conducted in the context of three components namely a five-year research program that stakeholders from all relevant sectors of Eswatini economy adopted; prioritizing research areas to align with eradicating poverty, unemployment, and inequalities; and work programs covering the years 2022-23 and 2023-24.

The main outputs of the seminar will be a report of the proceedings and an informed list of policy recommendations as well as an evaluation of the research themes to cover the remaining years of the five-year research program.

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