Friday, October 31, 2008

Africa Development Bank (ADB) promises to support Swaziland

DESPITE that the country is currently facing a serious socio-economic situation characterised by a sluggish economic performance,

high levels of poverty and inequality, high HIV and AIDS infection rate and growing unemployment, the Africa Development Bank (ADB) has made a commitment to support the country.

The Bank Group's assistance strategy for Swaziland for the period 2005-2009 aims at supporting the pro-poor economic and social development of the country by providing assistance to government and the private sector to successfully address the broad range of development challenges facing the country.

The ADB Country Strategy Paper (CSP) states that the proposed strategy is selective and focuses on two mutually re-enforcing strategic priorities that seek to address Swaziland's principal development challenges.

These are promoting sustainable pro-poor private sector-led economic growth investing in people and improving welfare.

The strategy links the country's development goals to specific objectives and expected outcomes and identifies quantitative targets to be attained during the CSP period.

"Bank Group assistance programme in Swaziland will combine lending and non-lending activities. Non-lending activities will focus on economic and sector work, where three studies will be undertaken, namely, a Country Governance Profile, Labour Market Study and a Review of Social Sector Expenditures.

"The lending programme will, in the short- to medium-term (2005-2007) concentrate on the social sector, while the challenges in agriculture and rural development, and physical infrastructure will continue to be addressed through the ongoing projects that the Bank is currently implementing," states the paper.

Meanwhile, the bank also states that to ensure a successful implementation for this strategy, it is important that it also maintains an open dialogue with the government and other stakeholders on a number of key issues.

These include macro-economic policy reform and implementation, the need for good governance, creating a conducive environment for private sector development, improving portfolio performance and building a sound pipeline of projects.

"Over the current CSP period, Swaziland will face major challenges in reducing poverty and inequality, combating the spread of HIV and AIDS, ensuring food security and reducing unemployment," states the paper, further suggesting that during this period, the proposed Bank strategy seeks to assist Swaziland to attain higher and sustainable pro-poor economic growth anchored on private sector development and to address the challenges posed by the communicable and non-communicable diseases, especially HIV and AIDS.

"Over the medium-term (2005-07) assistance will, therefore, focus on the social sector and economic and sector work. Beyond this period, new projects could be processed in the agriculture and infrastructure sectors, following a mid-term review of the strategy in 2007," states the paper.