Swaziland and the European Community partners in cooperation
by Kieran OCUNEEN
Like many of the former British colonies in Africa, cooperation
between Swaziland and the Community began in 1975, when an international
cooperation agreement - the Lomonvention - was signed in the Togolese
capital, LomThis, first, Lomonvention linked 46 countries in Africa, the
Caribbean and the Pacific with the then nine EEC Member States and was designed
to last five years, until February 1980. At the time, the EEC Delegation dealing
with projects and programmes in Swaziland was located in Maseru, the capital of
Lesotho, with a suboffice in the Swazi capital, Mbabane. A fully-fledged
Delegation was opened in Mbabane in 1982.
Trade and aid were at the heart of the first Lomonvention,
and of the three subsequent Conventions (Lom V was signed in December 1989)
and considerable assistance to the social and economic development of the
Kingdom of Swaziland has beer given in the years since 1975. To date, the
total value of that assistance amounts to over 640 million Emalangeni at current
The Convention provides that the ACP countries, including
Swaziland, have duty-free access to the 325-million EEC consumer market for
virtually all their exports. This means, for example, that Swaziland pays no
duty at all on its exports of tinned pineapples or pinewood furniture to the
EEC, whereas neighbouring South Africa would have to pay a 20 % duty on the same
Sugar and beef
Levies are still payable, however, on a limited number of
agricultural products exported by ACP countries to the EEC, particularly, of
course, those which compete with Europes own produce. However, under the
terms of protocols to the Convention, agreed quotas of sugar and beef, for
example, can enter the Community duty-free (or near duty-free) and at guaranteed
prices. Thus 116 000 tonnes of Swazi sugar enters the Community each year free
of duty and at a price which for many years has been well above the world market
price. Similarly, a quota of 3 363 tonnes of Swazi beef may enter the Community
market almost levy-free (with a 90% rebate) at prices which, again, are
generally well above those obtainable elsewhere. However, whereas the sugar
quota is met, Swazilands beef quota (which calls for stringent slaughter,
chilling and deboning regulations to be observed) is not yet filled, though the
recent rehabilitation of the Swazi Meat Industries abattoir should make
this possible in future. As a rough indication, the special arrangements for
Swazi sugar and beef could yield up to E 50m each year more than the Kingdom
would get by selling the same products at other markets.
Incorporated in the Convention is the Stabilisation of Export
Earnings (Stabex) scheme, designed to assist countries when export revenues fall
due to a drop in price, or production, or both.
Swaziland has benefited considerably from the Stabex system:
under Lom, the country received three grants amounting to ECU 13 m (E 40 m)
to help offset the effects of diminishing export revenues from iron ore mining.
During the course of LomI (1980-85) the system operated again in
Swazilands favour, this time for cotton production, badly hit by drought.
Two grants, totalling ECU 8 m (E 24 m), were given to compensate for loss of
earnings. Swazilands timber exports are also covered by the scheme.
Rise in exports
More generally, Swazi exports to the Community have grown
remarkably in recent years: in 1981, for example, they stood at ECU 64.8 m; by
1985 they had reached a value of ECU 105 m and, in 1986, rose to ECU 123.8 m.
The Community now accounts for almost half of Swazilands exports, compared
with only 20% at the beginning of the 1980s. The countrys overall trade
surplus with the Community rose from ECU 50.3 m in 1981 to ECU 112 m in 1986,
representing an increase of 122 % over a period of five years.
programmes under Lom, II and III
On the aid side, Swaziland has received, from national and
regional programmes, a total of ECU 73.5 m, or the equivalent at current
exchange rates of E220m. Half this amount went to human resource development and
training, which has a vital role to play in Swazilands progress towards
self-reliance. The biggest beneficiary of aid in this field has been the
University of Swaziland, with E 37 m provided in grants for the building of
hostels, an assembly hall, the building and equipping of science laboratories,
agricultural education units and for technical assistance, and it is expected
that the University will benefit further under the programme for LomV which
is shortly to be agreed with Government.
Other major training projects include the Ngwane Teachers
Training College and the Vocational and Commercial Training College (VOCTIM) at
Matsapha. The Teachers Training College has so far received assistance to the
tune of some E 15 m, both in the form of buildings (classrooms and student and
teacher accommodation) and in the form of scholarships for staff to upgrade
their qualifications. The College, which has been in existence since 1982, has
received funding under all three Conventions, and Government has expressed
interest in further assistance from the EEC for, inter alia, the stocking and
extension of the library. Some 120 students qualify each year from Ngwane, and,
given the Colleges high reputation, and the current shortage of primary
teachers, all who graduate are sure to find jobs.
VOCTIM, located near the countrys manufacturing heartland
at Matsapha, at present trains some 140 students in a variety of vocational
skills, including building and construction, business administration, automotive
and electrical engineering and woodwork. The Institute, which has just emerged
from an independent assessment with flying colours, has an excellent reputation
and, here again, graduates are in heavy demand in Swazilands expanding and
modernising economy. To date, the Community has contributed some E 13 m to
establishing and running the Institute.
Further contributions in the field of human resource development
and training, at regional level, have been in the form of specialised training
for Swaziland Railways, Customs, Posts and Telecommunications and the Institute
for Development Management.
The second priority area for EEC assistance in Swaziland has
been rural development, for which a total of E 60m has been allocated over the
years. Projects have included a Smallholder Support Programme (E 18 m), the
Simunye Irrigation Project (E 10m). Rural Water Supply and Rural Dams projects
(E 12 m each), and a foot-and-mouth disease barrier fence (E 3 m).
In addition, help has been given to stimulate trade and
manufacture in the form of training and technical assistance to S.I.D.C. (the
Swaziland Industrial Development Company), to an integrated Trade, Tourism and
Handicrafts project, and funding for participation in international trade fairs.
One important aspect of Swazilands human resource
constraints is the shortage of skilled professional manpower in the public
service. To address this problem, the Community has provided substantial amounts
of Technical Assistance to the Swaziland Government. Thus, experts have been
provided for the Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce and Industry, Economic
Planning, Education, and Finance as well as to support the Swaziland
Governments SADCC operations.
A major engineering project, and one which is likely to continue
to receive funding under LomV, is the national airport at Matsapha. To date
some E 6 m has gone to building and equipping a new control tower and for the
additional training of air traffic controllers. Continued funding would
contribute to enlarging the apron and upgrading the terminal building, so as to
relieve present congestion.
Microprojects: low cost, high benefit
An important characteristic of Swazilands cooperation with
the EEC lies in the high proportion - over 15% - of the total allocation spent
on microprojects, a percentage shared by only three other ACP States. An E 14 m
Microprojects Programme, run by an EEC-funded Technical Assistant and his staff,
helps local communities to develop piggeries, dairies, markets, vegetable
gardens and poultry farms, as well as build schools, clinics, Bailey bridges,
rural dams and footbridges.
Community development, such as organising womens knitting
or sewing workshops or youth groups is another activity. In the early phase of
the programme the vast majority of the projects were educational: 39 schools
were built, and only 10 of the projects related to agricultural development.
Today, this ratio has been reversed. Communities contribute a minimum of 25% of
the cost of the project (which should not exceed ECU 300 000 in value), and,
though some cash might be provided, this contribution is often in the form of
materials or labour. The greater flexibility in the implementation of the
microproject programme is a welcome aspect of this form of assistance, and the
benefits to the people of Swaziland, particularly rural populations, is of
course very direct. At present the Microprojects Unit is implementing 75
projects, throughout the country.
Swaziland is, of course, a member of the Southern African
Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC) and is responsible for the
regions Programme of Action in the area of Manpower Development. The
Swaziland Government thus hosts the Regional Training Council, which is the
coordinating body, and provides the RTC with a secretariat.
Under LomI and LomII the Community has supported the work
of the RTC secretariat by means of technical assistance and has sponsored the
development of a wide range of regional manpower and training projects. Under
LomII, 17 projects have been approved with a total budget of ECU 10.3
million. These include projects such as the training of SADCC agricultural
managers at the Mananga Agricultural Management Centre in Swaziland as well as
major projects throughout the nine SADCC countries. At present a further 14
projects are under development with earmarked funding of approximately ECU 12 m.
Finally, Swaziland has benefited from a number of minimal
interest rate loans from the European Investment Bank and from aid for refugees,
partly in the form of food aid. The loans (totalling ECU 23 m) went to the
National Industrial Development Corporation, Simunye Royal Swazi Sugar
Corporation, the Luphohlo Hydroelectric Scheme, S.I.D.C. industrial building and
to the Swazi Meat Industries slaughterhouse at Matsapha. Aid to refugees
included E 23 m, spent partly on the building of the secondary school at
Ndzevane, and the equivalent of E 4.5 m in food aid.
The projects and programmes to be supported from
Swazilands national indicative programme for the fourth Lomonvention
(ECU 30 m) will be agreed on with Government later this year, and, together with
allocations under the Regional Programme, it is clear that the Community will be
able to support the Kingdoms development plans well into the 1990s.