Saturday, November 7, 2009


It’s Fantasy Watch time again. Last month (October 2009) King Mswati III went on a tour of the Middle East with his cap in hand trying to get ‘business captains’ in the oil state of Qatar to help Swaziland find up to E35 billion (4.8 billion US dollars) to develop a ‘world class’ facility that will store at least a three-month supply of fuel for Swaziland.

Remember that?

Then, in the same month, the Swazi media reported about a grand plan to spend E1.5bn (about 200 million US dollars) on a ‘facelift’ for the Swazi capital city Mbabane.

The money for this was to come from international investors.

Which investors and from where?

Nowhere of course. It’s a fantasy, and here’s why: Swaziland is not deemed as a good place for investors to set up business because of its small market, its people are too poor and Swaziland’s limited international reputation as a destination for foreign direct investment.

That’s the view of a consultant Peter Carr, who says because of these problems Swaziland has not had sufficient appeal to investors as a good place to set up business.

He told this to a meeting in Manzini, Swaziland’s business centre, this week. The Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by the king, reported it but did not make the connection between this home truth and King Mswati’s fantasies.

In another part of the financial forest, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) reports that foreign direct investment going into Swaziland has fallen drastically, from about E529.3 million (67 million US dollars) between 1990 and 2000 to about E52.14 million (6.6 million US dollars) between 2003 and 2007.

The WTO reports that the cost of doing business is high: Swaziland currently ranks 115 (out of 183 countries) in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2009 index.

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