Kingdom of Eswatini economic update: raising the game with efficient state-owned enterprises

Eswatini’s economy has been characterized by persistent low growth, high fiscal deficits, and unprofitable state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Without significant reform, the country is unlikely to achieve its socioeconomic aspirations, and poverty and unemployment are likely to remain high. These problems are exacerbated by the difficult external environment, with subdued global demand and volatile international prices. In this context, the government of Eswatini recognizes that the country needs a series of policy reforms to unleash the potential of the private sector. It also needs to improve the efficiency of SOEs in strategic sectors, which deliver services to many businesses and households. This report is divided into two parts. Part 1 discusses recent economic developments in the global and domestic economy and assesses Eswatini’s short and medium-term prospects. Part 2 reviews the role that SOEs can play in the government's efforts to enhance economic performance. It assesses both their contribution to the economy and their limitations to suggest directions for reform.