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E10M THINKPADS, TABLETS FACTORY TO BRING 10 000 JOBS

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BULANDZENI – Eswatini will now be among countries which manufacture tablets and ThinkPads.

A group of investors from South Africa (SA) has partnered with government and other local partners to undertake the investment initiative which is valued at E10 million. The SA investors, trading as SCT Eswatini, will construct a factory shell at Bulandzeni, in northern Hhohho, for this project. Yesterday, Ndzingeni Member of Parliament (MP) Lutfo Dlamini introduced the investors to the community leaders and the people of the area during what was supposed to be a site handover for the proposed project. However, the investors proposed another site for the project as they were of the view that the one given to them was too small to accommodate the desired factory shell.

Explaining how production will occur, SCT Chairperson Tinashe Shangwa said they would start with the Semi Knockdown Kits (SKD) and in three years time, they anticipated to embark on the next phase. “The SKD means importing kits from other manufacturers to then assemble the electronic gadgets. The next phase will be when we now actually produce the kits on our own at the factory,” he said. Shangwa also disclosed that they projected to provide employment opportunities to around 10 000 people when they had reached their own production phase.

Partnership

MP Dlamini said he met with the SA investors who informed him of the project they wanted to embark on the outskirts of urban settlements. The MP said they then proposed a partnership with Hippo Tools and they worked together for the factory shell to be constructed. Hippo Tools is a business that was started by the youth of the area, which manufactures gardening tools. The target market for the investors is not just limited to emaSwati, but the region and globally with time. Meanwhile, speaking through Under Secretary (US) Cebile Nhlabatsi, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo, said his ministry and the whole of government was delighted for the realisation of this milestone. “The ministry is committed to realising an increased number of jobs and improved livelihoods. I am delighted and humbled to realise the milestone that is the proposed site for the construction of the Hippo Tools Factory Shell at Bulandzeni. I hope that having seen the site, the necessary project structures shall be engaged so that this country’s milestone can be realised. I believe the establishment of the investment will improve the livelihoods of emaSwati in this constituency,” he said.

Khumalo said the task at hand required different radical approaches. He said they could no longer carry out programmes in the usual manner. “The new way of fighting the challenges in our society is captured in the new decentralised development model. This proposed project shall be the first-of-its- kind in that a factory shell is proposed for the cooperatives model. “The essence of this model is to address social and economic development challenges through synchronising planning across all government spheres. In practical terms, local government planning to build factory shells and provide services that will realise improved livelihoods across the country. The joint product will uplift the broad populace. Some of the components of this partnership are members of the business and community-based organisations,” the minister said. He added that the presence of decentralisation of firms and other government services to the constituencies from the central government was a good sign that they were embarking on the right path. This, he said, was part of what they contributed as communities from the Poverty Participation Assessment.

Opportunities

“It is envisaged that this pilot project shall change the landscape of this constituency. The ministry is further convinced that this initiative will significantly decrease the urban migration and further increase business opportunities in the retail sector and the country’s economy as the project has factored innovation. I, therefore, encourage the responsible committees to factor the copy rights issues in their product and also ensure that their products meet the best practices in quality assurance. I am aware that this project has a lot of opportunities in value addition. I, therefore, implore the cooperative to encourage members of the society to work together for the best interest of this constituency and the country at large,” he said. The legislator said they shall not sacrifice the overall economic growth and development of the country on the altar of mediocre principles, but all communities must be engaged in productive activities which would in turn spring up a significant multiplier effect to economic growth. He thanked the Bulandzeni Royal Kraal for the piece of land, the development officers and the MP for this initiative. “As government, we are committed to working together with all our communities to ensure that through decentralisation of services, we move Eswatini forward,” he said.

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