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EIGHT BIG COMPANIES BRINGING 3 439 JOBS

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MBABANE - Talk about walking the talk. This seems to be the modus operandi that the new government, led by Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, has adopted in its ambitious endeavour to revive the country’s economy.


Fresh from launching a strategic road map a few days ago aimed at reviving the economy and creating job opportunities, government yesterday unveiled about eight investment projects that will see major companies investing over E1 billion in the country.
This will see about 3 439 job opportunities being created in various sectors, including food and clothing production, environmental cleaning, medicinal products and art refinery.


One of the main priorities in the strategic road map is creating a conduvice environment for the private sector and promoting foreign direct investment (FDI).
During the launch, which took place at the newly-opened Hilton Garden Inn, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo officially presented the investors on behalf of the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA).


Investors


Khumalo first thanked the investors, whom he referred to as ‘our friends’ and said he was grateful for the confidence they showed by agreeing to invest in the country.


The companies were represented by their managing directors and chief executive officers, who were all given an opportunity to explain the kind of business they were involved in and what made them choose to invest in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The investors confirmed that the companies would start operating in the next coming weeks. Two of the companies announced yesterday that they would invest over E400 million each and these are Clockwork Giant Clothing and Avapharm.


Clockwork will bring in 850 job opportunities while Avapharm is set to hire about 90 people.
Another company, Jonsson Wear, revealed that it would invest about E100 million, which will create 2 000 jobs. Its Chief Executive Officer, Nick Jonsson, mentioned that he was looking forward to building a successful company in the country, which will focus in the manufacturing and distribution of workwear for export purposes.

Also on the list is Kellogg’s, a company that produces recipes and food items including noodles. The company is set to invest about E180 million, something which will avail about 270 job opportunities.


Gerald Mahinda, MD of Kellogg’s Sub-Saharan Africa, stated that the company already had investments in countries such as Nigeria and Egypt and that it was determined to have a fruitful relationship with Eswatini and the rest of the continent.


He mentioned that he believed that Eswatini was perfect enough for the company to prove that it was not just about producing breakfast products but food as well.


The rest of the companies are R.M.E Bullion,  Taiwan Avocado Company and Air Liquide. It was stated that the 3 439 jobs were for those employees who would be taxable while an extra 1 800 will be hired as support staff like drivers and cleaners.
Addressing the gathering, the PM said it was encouraging that some of the companies were ones that were already established in the kingdom and had taken the wise decision of expanding their operations.


“Today we celebrate the culmination of these prudent investment decisions with the assurance that they will provide a springboard for the private sector to expand its influence in the economic growth of the kingdom,” the PM said.


Decision


Dlamini stated that he was aware that the chain of decision-making within a global multinational firm went through multiple levels, something which took time and concerted effort.


This, he said, made him applaud the commitment, time and effort that the companies put to convince their Boards and shareholders that the kingdom had the requisite potential and capability to host their business establishments.


“Government is committed to ensuring that we keep our promise of supporting your business aspirations as you expand into the country. I have no doubt that you will encounter positive experiences in your daily operations which will, hopefully, turn you into key business ambassadors for the country, spreading the good news that the Kingdom of Eswatini is Africa’s new promise and is open to business,” he highlighted.


Furthermore, the PM stated that the strategic road map his government launched was a guide aimed at taking Eswatini back to the path of economic growth, policy certainty and stability.
He said the strategy had many facets but was mainly geared towards private sector growth as the main vehicle to spearhead the creation of jobs, establishment of innovation driven industries and alleviation of poverty, among others.


 The news of the investors coming on board will be a relief to the country following the announcement of retrenchments in most textile firms. It was revealed a few weeks ago that there would be retrenchment of 400 employees in different industries.


Retrenching


Statistics from the office of the Labour commissioner revealed that three industries have been hit hard by the fiscal abyss the country has found itself in.
The construction industry saw four companies retrenching 199 employees while the textile industry had discarded the employment of 115 personnel.
Also, the ablution industry had to let go of six employees.


This was as a result of the impact of the fiscal crisis which has seen government owing suppliers over E3.2 billion with some suppliers being informed that they would have to wait for over a year to get their money from government.


In an interview with President of Business Eswatini Henry Tum du Pont, he stated that they welcomed the investors, and that their coming on board was in line with His Majesty King Mswati III’s call for the nation to revive the economy and create job opportunities. The president said most of the companies had their products being sold in the country but distributed by other countries which he said was not fair.


“It is good that they will now produce here and our wholesalers will do the job of distribution. They must treat the Eswatini business community fairly so that it also benefits. So basically, we are ready to work with them,” he said.

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