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ECO-6 Finds new home in Eswatini

Leaders of the ECO-6 Minister Manqoba Khumalo and his PS Siboniso Nkambule and EIPA CEO Sibane Mngomezulu pose for a group photo.

By Silindzelwe Nxumalo

Through His Majesty King Mswati III’s travel business networks during his recent trip to the United Nations General Assembly, the Economic Community of the African Diaspora (ECO-6) has shown interest in investing in the country.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Trade Manqoba Khumalo during a press conference on Wednesday held at the Eswatini Investment Promotion Authority (EIPA) offices.
Khumalo said this was the nation’s new economic partnership with ECO-6 which is an organization that was formed by members of the African Diaspora whose ancestors were taken as slaves from African countries more than 400 years ago and dispersed across many territories in Latin America, the Caribbean, the USA, and Europe.

He stated that this organization have members of African descent across the entire globe and had chosen Eswatini as their home as they take the next step in their African reintegration journey.
“This organization first came to Eswatini in 2019, and their plans were delayed by Covid-19, but during the United Nations General Assembly, His Majesty the King met the representatives of ECO-6 and encouraged them to return to the country,” he said.

The minister said His Majesty invited them to the Kingdom of Eswatini to practically explore how they could make their dream of establishing an economic base in Africa a reality and they responded swiftly to the invitation.

ECO-6 Chairman and Governor of the African Diaspora Central Bank His Royal Highness Chief Timothy McPherson and the Minister shake hands to seal the deal.

Khumalo went on to say that ECO6 leadership has been in the country for the last few weeks and attended the Sibaya, Peoples’ Parliament among other key events. “After meeting many stakeholders across several sectors of the economy, ECO-6 has confirmed to the government and EIPA that they have made the decision to set up their base in Eswatini,” he said.

Khumalo explained that ECO-6 would be investing in the country to advance its economic integration agenda in the continent. “They have already registered their company here, and when they return in the new year, they will outline their programme of action. Today is all about welcoming them and allowing them a chance to tell the nation and the world about their historic decision,” the minister said.

Khumalo stated that while they would be assisted by EIPA from an iInvestment and trade perspective, their reintegration agenda will ultimately involve other aspects such as culture, heritage, and tourism.
“We are truly grateful to their Majesties for their visionary leadership that has been demonstrated here once again. We see this partnership as yet another groundbreaking initiative that will allow ECO-6 to invest, trade, and mobilize resources towards the economic advancement of our country and ultimately the whole continent,” he said.

ECO-6 Chairman and Governor of the African Diaspora Central Bank, His Royal Highness Chief Timothy McPherson said they were grateful to His Majesty King Mswati III for understanding the desire and request of ECO-6 to not only have the Diaspora do business with Africa, like all other third-party institutions but also to have a deeper commitment of return towards the African Diaspora through the establishment of a permanent address on this great continent their ancestral lands.

He said in choosing the Kingdom of Eswatini as a home for their regional economic community, ECO-6 was performing what they call SANKOFA, which culturally means “turning to the past to collect something you have forgotten”.

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The chairman stated that in this context, the Diaspora turns to the African institutions of the past to embrace some of the best practices in administrative traditions and economic customs. “As we remember that our ancestors were taken away from African countries and that the kingdoms are the custodians of African tradition, governance, social integration, as well as economic and political stability,” he said.

He said with immediate effect, ECO-6 will work closely with the government of Eswatini to integrate the institutions of their regional economic community within their new home in Africa.
He stated that as they close the chapter of the more than 400 years of captivity, having been subjected to the atrocities of human trafficking, and crimes against humanity, and the loss of their ancestral lands, they now begin a new era of cooperation between Africa and the Diaspora that was predicated upon synergy building, knowledge transfer, industrialization, poverty eradication, cultural exchange, and the sustainable exploitation of our resources.

Chief Timothy McPherson making his remarks at the EIPA offices on Wednesday.

The chairman said as the ECO-6 now begins to orientate their regional economic constituency of the African Diaspora throughout Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, and around the world towards their new home, they applaud the people of Eswatini for having successfully preserved the dignity, culture, and image of their African ancestors.

“We look forward to working with you in this new era of cooperation between Africa and the global Diaspora together. We thank the international community for their recognition and support, as expressed by the United Nations Resolution on the International Decade for People of African Descent, under the theme “People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development.”,” he said.

The chairman added that as they approach the last year of the international decade, they deem their new home in Eswatini to be not only a landmark gesture by a modern African country towards the Diaspora, but also a great vindication for past generations of African Diaspora that never had the opportunity to see the fulfilment of their dream to “return home”.

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