Swaziland’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Gideon Dlamini said small and medium enterprises (SME) can unleash vast employment opportunities and stimulate economic growth.
Dlamini said although SMEs have been identified important in growing economies, they have continued to be mediocre performers and some even resort to shutting down, thus affecting economic growth.
“We need to intensify efforts towards developing strategies to creatively facilitate access to affordable credit by SMEs and empowering our cooperative societies.
“There was a growing need to maximise the use of local resources, increase local productivity and capacity building of domestic companies to become reliable suppliers that can guarantee sustained delivery,” he said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said last month that the tiny southern African country was near financial collapse, with a budget deficit of 14.3 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), similar to Greece and an economy stuck in the doldrums.
Swaziland’s public wage bill amounts to 18 per cent of GDP, more than any other country in Africa.
However, the minister said financial institutions should also be pro-active in financing SMEs and there was also a need to promote equity funds at regional and continental level as well as design technical assistance programmes to promote better linkages to equity funds.
According to Dlamini, infrastructure was a pre-requisite for trade and investment and this was significant as agricultural firms in rural areas needed infrastructure to reduce costs and there was also a need for service and technology parks that would enable market driven innovations, enhance vocational training programmes, and utilise public funds and public private partnerships for infrastructure development.
Source: Footprint to Africa