By: Ntombi Mhlongo
At least 1 000 job opportunities are anticipated upon the completion of the proposed sewing factory shell to be constructed at Ndzevane area, in the Lubombo Region.
This is contained in an Environmental Impact Assessment Report prepared by the Eswatini Environmental Authority (EEA) for the Microprojects Programme. The report says it is envisaged that the developer could employ 150 people during construction and at least 1 000 during the operational phase. The proposed site is accessible through the Manzini-Lavumisa MR-8 Road and has been unused for a while. The piece of land allocated for the project covers a five-hectare area, however, the proposed sewing factory shell will be constructed on three hectares of the project site. The report states that the Kingdom of Eswatini currently faces a challenge of high youth unemployment estimated at 45.7 per cent and that the Lubombo Region has 14.6 per cent of the total national labour force that is currently engaged, indicating critically low statistics as compared to other regions in the country.
“With the development of this project, there is an anticipation of job creation as this facility will house approximately 1 000 people on a day. This will be in addition to those that are employed in nearby industries or mills such as the Ubombo Sugar, Tambuti and USA Distillers,” it was highlighted. The report mentioned that consequent from these, the local economy of Ndzevane and surrounding communities will benefit from secondary economic services such as vending, transport and logistics and accommodation or lodging.
The impact assessment emphasised that the proposed project is likely to result in more positive impacts in the mid to long-term time frames and that it is in line with the aspirations of the government, as articulated in the 2018 Strategic Road map. It was highlighted that the positive impacts will be of great benefit to the country at large and the surrounding communities concerning the creation of employment and business opportunities. “However, there are unavoidable negative impacts to the physical environment as well as the socio-economic environments. The negative impacts will be significant, mainly in the socio-economic environment since a lot of goods and services will be impacted upon by the development, especially at the implementation stage,” reads part of the report.
Mitigation measures aimed at significantly minimising the impacts were outlined in the report. The success of the Ndzevane project will ensure that government is on course to achieve its dream of creating jobs for close 10 000 emaSwati in the current financial year. The Ndzevane factory becomes the fourth major investment project and the government, through the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade is seemingly well positioned to achieve success. The first project of note is the construction of the Gamula Factory Shell which was toured by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Trade Manqoba Khumalo. The government is also investing in s similar-sized projects at the Mantambe area and Khumalo said preparations for the commencement of the projects were at an advanced stage.
Also, there is the Jonsson Workwear firm that would be established at Maseyisini which is expected to hire 3 000 people. Between these four projects government will create at least 6 000 direct jobs and another 2 000 indirect ones. The government is also investing in the Rehabilitation of the National Handcraft Training Centre project and the Market Access and Trade Facilitation whose focus is the procurement of equipment for laboratories.
In the ministry’s Annual Performance Report issued in February 2022, Minister Khumalo highlighted that government was dedicated to ensuring increased employment through investment.