By Silindzelwe Nxumalo
THE low rate of investment in the key sectors of Eswatini and Mozambique economies, coupled with the lack of a harmonized intra-trade regulatory framework, remains a major impediment to intra-Africa trade.
This was said by the Minister of Public Works and Transport Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe during Mozambique’s Ministry of Transport and Communication Mateus Magala’s visit to the Kingdom of Eswatini. The two ministers met at the Happy Valley Hotel on Wednesday.
Ndwandwe said that the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCTA) could only be realized through the successful development and maintenance of each country’s respective transportation infrastructure, encompassing, roads, rail, aviation, and ports. He stated that this gap presented multiple opportunities for a meaningful contribution to the attainment of regional industrialization and integration objectives, for increased intra-trade.
“Multiple programs have been established to ensure that work is undertaken in this regard. Here, the Maputo Development Corridor (MDC) Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) remains the leading program, to which the Government of Eswatini seeks to dovetail in its collaborative developmental efforts with Mozambique,” he said.
The minister stated that this mission offered the ideal opportunity for the advancement of their national cooperation on matters of transportation infrastructure and related services.
He said the technical teams had already deliberated on key initiatives that aim to further these aspirations.
He further highlighted key thematic areas for increased cooperation and investment which included roads, rail, and aviation. Ndwandwe stated that the Government of Eswatini continues to invest in the phased improvement of the MR3 Highway that connects South Africa’s Mpumalanga Province, through Eswatini’s Lomahasha Border Post, and Mozambique’s Maputo Province.
“In the interest of nature conservation for sustainable development, this Highway is being realigned to go via Hlane, bordering the King Mswati International Airport, through to Lomahasha or Namahachaa Border Post,” he said.
He said in the same vein, the country seeks to upgrade the MR3’s stretch from Mbhadlane connecting towards the 24Hr operating Mhlumeni and Goba Border Post to meet regional road standards and further enhance traffic flow.
As we undertake these initiatives, Honourable Minister, we are confident that the Mozambican Government shall also be making an equal commitment on the Mozambican side to ensure that these investments realize the intended regional development impact.
“We note with gratitude the initiatives by Mozambique’s CFM and Eswatini Rail on collaborative plant utilization, resulting in increased logistics capacity, as well as enhanced return on existing agency equity. This, in tandem with the commendable harmonization of operations, augers well for improved regional trade logistics capacity,” said the minister.
He also urged all stakeholders to ensure that, as we pursue the multi-billion Eswatini Rail Link Project, existing and new infrastructure and plant were harmonized and aligned. He said this would ensure that sea and inland ports, existing and new, in the two states, were equally put to good use for regional and global markets.
“Through the state-owned Royal Eswatini National Airways Corporation, we are pleased to have relaunched the national airline, Eswatini Air, after almost 25 years of absence,” he shared. He mentioned that in line with the AU’s Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) project, and her business model, they urge Eswatini Air to pursue bi-literal opportunities with Mozambican counterparts, to further enhance the movement of goods and services.
“We are also confident our government will soon be signing the proposed Bi-literal Air Service Agreement (BASA) between the two states, on the finalization of internal processes led by the Eswatini Civil Aviation Authority (ESWACAA),” said the minister.