Sunday, July 31, 2011


As Swaziland’s economy grinds to a halt and destitute people are forced to eat cow dung, the Swazi Government has taken out a US$20 million loan to part-finance another of the King’s white elephants – an information technology park.

The loan, in the form of a line of credit, comes from the Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank).

But, there will be little opportunities for Swazi businesses to profit because 75 percent of the goods and services paid for by the money will have to be sourced from India.

The money is to help set up the Royal Science and Technology Park. When the scheme was announced in November 2010, the total cost of the project was put at E850 million (US$120 million). It was said building would start in April 2012.

Nobody, except King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch (and his hanger-on) believes the park is relevant to the needs of Swaziland.

The Minister of Information Communication and Technology Nelsiwe Shongwe said in November that the project would consist of a bio-technological park and an information technology park at Nokwane.

According to a report at the time in the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati, Moses Zungu, the Project Manager, said the science park was the initiative of the king.

Which tells us all we need to know.

Swaziland is being bled dry by the Sikhuphe International Airport project which may end up costing US$1 billion by the time all bills are in. The airport is not needed, and nor is the technology park. But both have the public backing of the king, so (such is the way in Swaziland) both must be built.

Delegates from the International Monetary Fund are due in Swaziland in August to investigate how close the Swazi Government is to implementing its own Fiscal Adjustment Roadmap to save the kingdom’s economy.

I hope the first question the IMF asks is where is the money to come from for the Royal Science and Technology Park?

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