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May I take this opportunity to comment on the ongoing debate about our Kingdom of Eswatini remaining the only African country to recognise Taiwan. I am not a politician but my father is the late Dr Sishayi Nxumalo and I have a lot of interest in development.

I do not mean to be disrespectful to our leaders by seemingly belittling their hard work and tireless efforts which I may or may not be aware off.

Next month is the biggest China/Africa Summit.
This debate on Mainland China and Taiwan stand must be openly debated in public through lectures and public forums for the betterment of all. I am not necessarily saying remaining with Taiwan is wrong but the open debate on the subject is very important. Taiwan is a democratic country and this is how they would do it.

Yabin Wu (2017) says the value of contracts newly undertaken by Chinese companies in Africa reached US$75 billion {E1065 billion} in 2014, with a turnover of US$53 billion { E753 billion}, which is 40 times more than the figure in 2000. Among them, the coastal railway project contract in Nigeria, acquired by China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd, had a total value of US$11.97 billion, the highest value of a single-contract project in the history of China’s foreign engineering activities

Stage one of the Addis Ababa–Adama Expressway, with a total length of 78 kilometres, was completed in May 2014. Designed and constructed by China Communications Construction, this expressway is the first in Ethiopia and the first with such scale and quality in East Africa. Bidding for the construction of a new bridge over the Cuanza River in Angola was jointly won by an Angolan company, China Road and a Portuguese company, Bridge Corporation, in November 2014.

The project has a total contract value of about US$110 million {E1562 billion}, making it the first major public works contract won by a Chinese-funded company in collaboration with foreign companies since the influx of Chinese-funded companies into Angola in 2003.

At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in December 2015, China announced its offer of US$60 billion {E854 billion} and support for the ‘Ten Major Collaborative Plans’, which involve areas such as industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure, finance, green development, trade and investment, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, and peace and security.

Taiwan has a dynamic capitalist economy that is driven largely by industrial manufacturing and, especially, exports of electronics, machinery, and petrochemicals. This heavy dependence on exports exposes the economy to fluctuations in global demand.  It is truly an international player with GDP US$1.175 trillion {E16 685 trillion} (2017 est) US$1.152 trillion (2016 est) US$1.136 trillion (2015 est.) and GDP (official exchange rate) US$571.5 billion (2016 est).

Taiwan has been a good friend for Eswatini for many years and has been a true development partner through health, agriculture, textiles and random donations of millions Emalangeni. Their involvement in the Innovation and Bio-Technology Park is just one such example. However, the time has come to ask the real hard questions with regard to our relationship.

We stand to lose billions in Mainland China Africa initiatives. We need to know as a people, if Taiwan can give Eswatini say US$10 billion which would be to fund energy generation, which is a major development initiative and revenue generator. This would frog leap our industrialisation and ensure a continued supply of high quality coal for years to come to Taiwan as an example.

Taiwan has some of the largest eco–friendly thermal power plants in the world and is importing coal. Why do they not put up a 5000MW eco–friendly thermal power plant at Maloma (since another has been approved for Mpaka), which will employ 30 000 emaSwati. This would involve a new coal mine which would supply the thermal power plant and export to Taiwan through Richards Bay.

The SADC energy pool requires all the energy they can get if they are to truly industrialise. Eswatini is sitting on Black Gold-Coal reserves for the next 500 years.
Had I a chance, I would humbly request those responsible to register The Royal Eswatini Mining Corporation and The Royal Eswatini Power and Energy Company to be in partnership with Taiwan. Then hand-pick emaSwati with mining and energy expertise around the world and put in place special training programmes in energy and mining.

Taiwan would then be requested for expertise and funding for these two companies. Trained young emaSwati would come back and run these companies. We cannot wait for foreign direct investment given our political situation as a kingdom in a sea of hostile republics. These two companies would take us to our second industrial revolution after sugar milling. Two thermal power plants would ensure abundance of energy which has been the engine and the industrial revelation around the world.

Sabelo Gabriel Nxumalo

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