Category: News

Statement from BE Board: We’re Fully Behind the Recent Statements by our CEO, E. Nathi Dlamini

Business Eswatini’s mandate is to promote the advancement of our national goals and aspirations while advocating for and protecting the interests of the business community, in particular those businesses under Business Eswatini. In this spirit the board of BE stands fully behind the statement issued by the CEO. The Board of BE is disappointed at the politicisation of the CEO’s statements despite the full knowledge that it came from an informed place.

For too long now, Eswatini’s utility tariffs have not been cost-reflective. The cross-subsidisation of electricity, in particular, has forced many businesses to look into off-grid solutions to lower costs.

It is no secret that with the load-shedding and power shortages in the Republic of South Africa there is going to be an increase in the price of electricity over the medium term, while the proposed thermal power plant is 8-10 years in the offing, there is a looming potential shortage being forecasted over the medium term.

BE membership includes all the biggest users of electricity in the country, most of which are looking at alternative renewable energy self-generation projects due to the high costs of electricity and the unfavourable outlook. If such a situation were to occur, as it seems it will, and a number of large private sector organisations were to go off-grid, the cost of maintaining the grid, which would remain unchanged, would be passed on to the consumer entirely, resulting in sharp increases in electricity tariffs for all. We need to avoid a situation where all businesses go off grid, and there is no one left to subsidize domestic consumers.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2019 ranks Eswatini at 121 out of 141 economies, improving vital metrics of competitiveness such as the cost and quality of utilities is a crucial step towards improving these rankings and attracting Foreign Direct Investment.

Holding down natural increases in utility bills is a flawed way to enhance consumer welfare. Nothing will benefit the average Liswati more than the creation of jobs. A thriving private sector is crucial for the creation of sustainable sources of employment for Emaswati. Business Eswatini is committed to working with our members to further this agenda. Moreover, utility price hikes for the private sector are inevitably passed on to the consumer, in the form of higher prices of goods and services, eventually harming the end user.

The original proposal from EEC was an increase of 10% for the consumer and between 6.8% and 7.22% for the various categories of private sector users. After lengthy consultations with BE and the ESERA, the proposed increase was brought down to 3% for consumers and a decrease of 1.27% and 1.33% across the private sector categories. BE strongly felt that this would balance the pressure on the consumer and go a long way towards achieving our national objectives of enhanced investment and job creation, while reflecting a huge reduction from the initial proposal. 

Andrew le Roux

President

New EEC Tariff: A Big Win for Business

Dear Esteemed Members

Following the newly released price structure by the energy regulator, Business Eswatini is of the view that there is finally some convergence of thinking by EEC, the energy regulator and the business community at large.
EEC has been receptive to the concerns raised by Business Eswatini regarding the existing pricing model for energy, especially when it comes to businesses. Furthermore, they have demonstrably accepted that the existing pricing regime, which is fashioned on cross-subsidization, had served to create artificially high costs of doing business in the country, the result of which had perennially affected the country’s standing in international rankings and attractiveness indices for direct investment projects.

For many years, businesses subsidized domestic consumers. While the nobility of the arrangement may seem palatable, at least on the surface of it, the economic harm it produces, however, is far greater than the benefit to the individual consumer. Most importantly though, the method is admittedly unfair. Many businesses, especially the small ones – including the tiny ‘mom and pop’ outfits, which can barely make ends meet already, are still expected to shoulder the burden of having to subsidize domestic consumers which seems unfair really. Because of the high cost of utilities and, of course, owing to other general costs of doing business in a difficult trading environment such as ours, these businesses eventually shut down doors forever and jobs are lost in the process. While each small business may not hire too many people, but combined as a small business sector, they hire a lot of people around the country.
The recent pricing structure as pronounced by the regulator and duly accepted by EEC, represents what could be called ‘small baby steps’ towards a long journey of ensuring that every energy user in the country pays their fair share of the cost without cross-subsidies. Domestic consumers will be aggrieved by this rebalancing as would anyone who had enjoyed a benefit that was later taken away.

To minimize the pain for domestic users, Business Eswatini suggests that the change be staggered over time, say, over 3 years while recurrently reducing the rate applicable to businesses. This can be done but it will not be without discomfort to some people, which is why a gentle approach is necessary.

Then there is the issue of IPP’s (Independent Power Producers) whose time has come as they are more necessary now than ever before particularly in the light of the energy crisis in the region. Business Eswatini’s discussions with EEC have been encouraging in this regard. There are no reasons to believe both sides will not eventually find common ground. EEC’s vision going forward is not uniquely inconsistent with that held by the private sector and for that, EEC’s management deserves accolades.
The economy is increasingly becoming energy-reliant and many investment projects especially those in the Post-Covid Economic Recovery program will demand a lot of energy that is priced right; and yet this is impossible at the moment. The independent producers must be allowed to come on stream either to power their own large businesses or in need by being part of the national grid. Too much funding is spent paying other countries to provide us with electricity when this country is now capable of reducing the reliance on other countries by exploiting newer, cost-effective and yet greener technologies of producing power.
Over-reliance on other countries is not only taxing in terms of depleting the country’s foreign reserves, it also denies the country the opportunity to create its own high quality engineering jobs locally.
Self-reliance in energy in order to power the economy, and indeed in other sectors as well, should be vigorously exploited when commercial sensibilities so dictate.
Business Eswatini is grateful for the amicable and favourable outcome on behalf of the business sector. We are thankful for the opportunity to have held mutually beneficial engagements with EEC. After all, both institutions exist to advance the interests of the country by being true to their individual mandates for which they were first established.

Kind Regards;

BUSINESS ESWATINI

WELCOME NOTE FROM THE CEO

Greetings Esteemed Members,

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you all to the New Year.

The year 2020 was fraught with tough challenges which affected the companies we run, and at a personal level, our families as well.

Looking back, the pandemic steadily became a crisis of epic proportions as we were introduced, for the first time, to unfamiliar concepts of living and doing business. The many lockdowns and restrictions in the movement of people and goods – necessary as these measures may have been – put paid to a number of good initiatives aimed at turning the economy around.

We are therefore grateful for those who successfully crossed over into 2021 and we hope they will try to make sense out of a business environment that long ceased to be sensible. 

Looking forward to 2021, indications suggest that it may be another sombre year but with some semblance of positives in the latter part of the year. In our estimation, it cannot get any worse than this.

As Business Eswatini though, our mandate remains relatively unchanged, which is to advocate for a robust business environment and general economic wellbeing for the business community.  To achieve that objective there are many components that must work smoothly and synergistically within our organisation.

To that effect, I would like to express our profound gratitude to each and every one of you who walked with us last year to make our vision possible. Despite the glaring and obvious challenges related to Covid-19, I recall that the business community rose to the occasion when the country desperately needed us to avert certain disaster from the outbreak. Covid-19 remains the biggest singular threat to the economy, yet through the guidance and wise counsel of our Board, EXCO along with your active participation and support, we will overcome as we have already proved last year.

We believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have more reasons to be hopeful now. As you are well aware, several effective vaccines have been developed and are being rolled out in Europe and America. Eswatini is also on course to roll out the vaccine during the course of the year, hopefully by this autumn. As more details on that are released, we will once again call upon you to work with us and other partners to get over the line.

Undoubtedly, we have heard all manner of untruths and misinformation about the vaccines – from our colleagues, friends and all over social media. Over the next few months, the Secretariat will be working closely with Government on an education program to dispel all myths, conspiracy theories and allay any fears that exist.  It has always been said that until a definitive treatment or vaccine is found the battle for Covid-19 will rage on. So my plea to you is for your cooperation as we launch the final assault against Covid-19 and begin a new chapter of economic restoration.

As we propel forward in the New Year, we are not unmindful that there are always new challenges that lie ahead of us. We remain confident that with your continued support we will be able to meet all these challenges head-on. It is reassuring to know that we’re all willing to pull together and make the changes necessary to ensure our continued success.

We wish you a successful year ahead.

E. Nathi Dlamini

CEO

Tribute to Mrs. Dudu Cynthia Lomanene Vilakazi of HS Transport – A proud member of Business Eswatini

Business Women Eswatini (BWE) and the entire nation have lost another virtuous and courageous warrior in Mrs. Dudu Lomanene Vilakazi of HS Transport, which is a member of Business Eswatini. It is unprecedented but today we mourn our very own. No amount of words and sophisticated vocabulary could even begin to describe the kind of woman she has been to us as an organisation and the women empowerment movement. It is even difficult to describe our feelings of inconsolable loss resulting from her untimely passing away.   

We started the BWE journey together only recently. Just as we were seeing the glimpses of success and a ray of hope, she was whisked away from us. We mourn a warrior gone too soon.

Being a true visionary, Lomanene, as we fondly called her, would not be held back by anything – not even lack. She stopped at nothing to generously give the best gift she had, even her last penny of her hard-earned money, in order to make an impact on the lives of the powerless. She gave her soul to the cause. She gave consistently her time and wealth of knowledge to us and all who came into contact with her. We ask ourselves this question today: Where will all of this come from now?

Like every noble assignment, our work has not been smooth sailing from the very first day. Throughout the difficulties we have been through, Mrs. Vilakazi has been the paragon of resilience and a source of courage when needed the most. She, as if was not experiencing any difficulties herself, was strong enough to spur us on and swallowed her own pains for the team. As if she was assigned by a higher power to do it, she demonstrated what working without complaining is. Our knees are weak.  

We are also aware that Mrs. Vilakazi’s untimely demise is not only a loss to Business Eswatini, but it is a loss to her family, her friends, and all who benefitted from her life. We pass our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to them. She was truly a blessing to us which we would have loved to have kept forever, but it was not to be. A hero has gone, and gone too soon.

We are in mourning and our hearts are filled with sorrow. But as colleagues, family, and friends who loved you till your last breath, we are also aware that your departure from us is a joy to the Lord and the Heavenlies with whom you now celebrate the life of victory which you lived on this earth. Congratulations on a life well-lived.

MAY YOUR SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE.

Mrs. Tokky Hou – Business Women Eswatini Chairperson

Memorializing H. E. The Rt.Hon. PM Mr A. M. Dlamini

The private sector of Eswatini

E. Nathi Dlamini

24 Dec 2020

These are the collective sentiments of the private sector on whose behalf I have the privilege to express. They are from every businessperson in the land: big and small; formal and informal. It is their feelings for this moment whose time we had yearned will never come in our lifetimes. For us as a business community we have lost that which was a source of inspiration and hope.

We have lost a treasure of a man who came and gave everything, and took nothing in return. And when his life was spent, he left.

Hope denied at a time when needed the most; Hope that kept the business community going when all else was floundering.  His Excellency was the perfect expression of that hope, yet he understood only too well that man cannot live on hope, even though he accepted it as truth that without hope life wouldn’t be worth living either.

It was this hope that brought us this far. We therefore plied our trade not only as a means of creating jobs and sustaining desperate communities; but it was all about nation-building and creating a better life for all – through business. Our efforts were vitalized, in large part, because we knew these things were important to the Prime Minister.

But here we are today to say Not all is well with us, as the hope that sustained us is no more. No amount of pious platitudes can sooth the anguish we feel today. Our faith is diminished by the fear of having to walk alone again without him who was the mainstay of our sector; and he whose currency of exchange was always the truth and nothing else. Indeed, he was the heartbeat of business that never skipped a beat.

Being the embodiment of humility that he was though, he would most probably beg to differ as he wasn’t one to clamor for credit. The weight on his shoulders was heavy and the enormity of the assignment before him daunting. Yet he was unfazed as though something much greater than he propelled him, from day to day. One is left to assume that, despite his fortitude and deep faith, there must have been episodes of lonesomeness and despondency along the way. But he kept on dreaming dreams – for a better economy and a better country for all who call it home. It could not have been easy for him but, surely, it was worth it.     

We therefore say thank you Your Excellency for your sacrifice. Your efforts were not in vain. Even though we fear to walk alone to the future that beckons us, at least you showed us the way to get there. Tomorrow looks brighter as a result of you having passed this way. Our partnership with government has never been stronger because you revealed to us the wisdom of collaboration and the power of unity of purpose.

Men and women in business are filled with inconsolable sorrow, as if to say we cannot move on without you. Your departure from us has laid bare, for all to see, the fragility of life and the futility of our human existence. We may not possess the certitude of the faithful in equal measure and therefore we begin to wonder if the dreams you shared with us are still possible without the dreamer. Is it possible, I ask, to go on without your duty of care and compassion that were the touchstones of your life? Is it possible to carry on without your assurances which became the hallmark of your leadership?  

Maybe it is, just maybe, because you institutionalized the idea of the country’s ideal, both in the private sector and elsewhere. You were a complex entity of a man who taught us that the politics of identity should not stand in the way of nation-building; you didn’t look at the business sector with patrician disdain but as a vital partner without which a better country can only remain elusive. You chose to remain true and unchanging to the kingdom’s values despite the many exotic fragrances of change blowing your way. You were the bulwark of the country’s ideals for which I honour you most deeply today.

Director of ceremonies, I will not leave the podium until I recognize those closest and dearest to him. His wife Make Portia and the kids whom he adored; as well as his wider family, friends and relatives. The men and women of business would like to say sorry for your loss at this time. As for me personally, my loss is no less profound than yours as I, too, loved him no less.

God bless you. God bless Eswatini.  Thank you.    

Business Eswatini mourns the sad and untimely passing on of the Rt. Hon Prime Minister.

Passing Away of His Excellency the Rt. Hon Prime Minister

He came. He gave. And when he was spent, he left. There are no words to express our shock and sorrow as a business community.

The news of the demise of His Excellency the Right Honourable Prime Minister still feels like a nightmare from which we are yet to awaken.  We have always known that life is fleeting but this is too sad to bear and too soon to accept.

As a business community we have been privileged to avail of his wise counsel over the years on important issues. And at another level, we have enjoyed his partnership and friendship. We have benefitted from his leadership as a former president of the Chamber and latterly, as prime minister of the land. He had the best interest of the country at heart in everything he did. In the midst of this deadly pandemic, he gave his life completely to mitigating its devastating effects on the people. Little did we know that, fight as he did, he would end up succumbing to the very same disease he fought so hard to prevent.

As Business Eswatini we would like to pass our sincere condolences to Their Majesties, His Excellency’s family, especially Make Dumile and the kids; the business community and the entire nation at large.

May your soul rest in eternal peace.

Andrew le Roux                                                                          E. Nathi Dlamini

The Economic Recovery Plan

Minister of Economic Planning Dr. Thambo Gina: “The #EconomicRecoveryPlan is about gearing Government & the Private sector to work together. The Plan is a E30 billion stimulus package that will accelerate our economy into a much more sustainable path to achieve our development vision.

Business Eswatini CEO E. Nathi Dlamini: “One day #COVID19 will be over so we need to prepare. As the private sector we congratulate Government for grabbing the bull by its horns. It’s not easy but it has to be done. We will work with you because you are sincere & committed.”

A hectic brainstorming session #nationbuilding

After a hectic brainstorming session with BWE leadership, the President had to strike a subdued pose at the end #nationbuilding

Enterprising women slog away

In the words of the CEO it’s a virtuous circle when enterprising women slog away on the factory floor to create national wealth. The Bank steps in to facilitate funding; the taxman takes his dues; Minister of Finance steps in: Bills are paid and the nation is healed for yet another day. The #VirtuousCircle is made whole