Taiwan’s Africa budget rises even though eSwatini is only ally left on the continent

Taiwan wants to strengthen cooperation with the landlocked kingdom

President Tsai Ing-wen with King Mswati III (front right) in eSwatini last April.

President Tsai Ing-wen with King Mswati III (front right) in eSwatini last April. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Even though the kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, became Taiwan’s only remaining diplomatic ally in Africa last May, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is presenting a higher budget for the continent next year.

Burkina Faso switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in May, as one of five nations to have done the same since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May 2016.

Even though eSwatini is a small landlocked nation in Southern Africa, MOFA is listing more than NT$1.36 billion (US$44.4 million) for construction, social development and public health projects in its African ally, the Central News Agency reported Wednesday.

The figure amounted to an increase of NT$27.6 million (US$897,800) from the 2018 budget, which was drawn up before the rupture with Burkina Faso.

The hike revealed a deepening level of cooperation between Taiwan and eSwatini in several domains, including personnel training, communications technology, agriculture and healthcare, CNA reported. Training of hospital staff and electrification of the countryside were projects to be covered by the expenditure, according to MOFA.

The proposed budget for 2019, which totaled NT$26 billion (US$846.7 million), or a cut of NT$70 million (US$2.27 million) from the previous year, still has to pass review by the Legislative Yuan.