Swiss funders visit development projects

It is not only the majestic Alps, fine chocolates and masterpiece watches that the Swiss are well known for. The funding of social and economic development projects globally has improved the lives of millions.

Closer home, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has been funding the Vuthela iLembe LED Support Programme since 2017. The overarching objective and expected impact of the programme is to contribute to the improvement of the economic future of the iLembe District and the quality of life of its residents, through sustainable growth of the local economy, and the creation of higher, better and more inclusive employment and income-generating opportunities.

As the project begins to wind down, Vuthela recently hosted a SECO mission to evaluate projects under the Private Sector Development (PSD) and Building Inclusive Growth (BIG) components. The SECO team comprised members from Switzerland as well as those from the Pretoria office.

The group met with e-waste stakeholders in the district as part of the Sustainable Recycling Industries (SRI) e-waste project where they learnt about the challenges of dealing with e-waste since the August 2021 banning of Hazardous Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) to landfill sites. Discussions were held on how the SRI project can help the municipalities achieve their environmental, waste management, and economic development facilitation mandates. An important entry point for SRI is seeking to align the local municipal by-laws that govern e-waste with the policy development process at national level.

Next on the agenda was a visit to one of the biggest e-waste recycling facilities in the country, RecycleX, located in Ballito. Here officials, SECO and the SRI team were shown the processes of refurbishing or dismantling and recycling of e-waste. SECO team members appreciated the work that is being done and asserted that a well-functioning recycling sector is of utmost importance for the gradual transformation of society and economy towards a more circular economy.

The group then moved on to the presentation of prizes in the iLembe ICT project Launchpad competition. The SECO representatives got to engage with the youth to understand better their coding journey and their challenges.

The SECO team said it was an honour to engage with the youth, and to learn about their journey as well as the opportunities they are now able to pursue because of the course. They commend the youth for their hard work and persistence, and wished them the best in their careers.”

The SECO team also had the opportunity to meet the water and sanitation team at eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality to discuss the progress made under the Agri-Processing Resource Efficiency project that is implemented by the International Finance Corporation. Some of the key highlights from the partnership have been the facilitation in bringing stakeholders together through the public-private dialogues as well as the water by-law amendments process.

During the visit, the SECO team visited the Installation, Repair and Maintenance (IRM) hub, located on the Mandeni Campus of the Umfolozi TVET college. This hub, developed by the National Business Initiative as part of a country-wide hub programme, has seen 17 SMEs supported, 49 youth receiving training to be general repairers and several other IRM support initiatives.  Engaging with entrepreneurs, the visitors learnt about how they have benefited from the programme including the opportunities they were now able to pursue. The guests also enjoyed interacting with the stakeholders from the area and learning how the work the Vuthela Programme implements is benefiting the community.

The SECO delegation also visited the iSithebe Industrial Estate to learn about the park management model and initiatives to revitalise the park and challenges experienced.


PIC: Alan Werth from RecycleX explains to the visitors how they recycle  e-waste in their premises in Ballito