Merging of EAC, COMESA and SADC trade blocs in progress
Ageing employees of one of Swaziland’s largest retailers, Shoprite, fear that an e-learning programme, MyZone could be designed to take over their jobs.
However, the retailer has allayed such fears, saying it is all designed to trtain the workers to perform their duties even better.
Shoprite’s Sarita said “the only MyZone programme in Shoprite is an e-learning kiosk-based training system being rolled out to stores and on which staff will receive training for their respective duties. The programme is currently being piloted in the Eastern Cape and will at some stage roll out to Swaziland as well.
We also do not have, or contemplate, any other programme that can replace the manual work done by supermarket employees. Shoprite is a leading employer in Africa and the largest employer in South Africa after government. We are a net creator of jobs and proud of it.”
Employees said they were particularly disturbed by an image in the screen saver of the kiosk which depicts a wedge wielding devil complete with horns ready to strike.
The employees further allege that the programme is able to detect slow workers who might be eligible for early exit despite having worked for the company for decades.
The MYZONE belt utilises a patented technology leveraging communication protocols such as Analogue, ANT + and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The MYZONE belt stores up to 16 hours of memory for those times when users are out of range and not able to carry a smartphone. During soccer, a tough mudder or a run on the beach, their data is stored. Once they are within range of the MYZONE hub or the MYZONE mobile app, the data automatically wirelessly uploads.
The MYZONE belt comes with a textile based strap and requires a simple USB recharge every six months, pending usage rate. MZ3 Physical Activity Belt is designed to be worn during all forms of exercise to track the user's exercise intensity. MZ50 Watch is for the exercisers who don’t want to carry their smartphones while working out. Sports Bra is designed for maximum comfort while wearing a chest strap. MYZONE has been clinically tested to be 99.4 per cent accurate to an EKG machine.
The zones of intensity automatically calibrate to the users unique maximised heart rate. As opposed to wrist based heart rate devices, MYZONE maintains its accuracy during all forms of exercise, high impact and high intensity included.The MYZONE system is designed to meet the customer where they want to be, providing interoperability with devices such as the Apple Watch, Garmin, and third party apps like MapMyRun, Strava, MyFitnessPal, and others.
The hardware required for an in-gym display is one of two options:
1. The Stick PC which plugs directly into a TV via HDMI and requires power and internet.
2. The touch screen option which is ideal for trainers who would like to interface with the menu before or after the workout.
The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) that will see the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) blocs merge into one free trading bloc, is in progress though countries have not yet ratified the treaty according to Francis Mangeni, the Director of Trade and Customs at the COMESA secretariat.
Mangeni said 24 Member States, including Swaziland, have signed the Declaration with only Libya and Eritrea, who are members of COMESA, yet to sign.
“The TFTA Agreement has been signed by 20 of the 26 member countries, namely Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, State of Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“The Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Madagascar signed the TFTA Agreement on 7 July and 13 July 2017, respectively. The Agreement requires 14 ratifications to enter into force. So far, no country has ratified it,” said Mangeni.
He said the negotiations for Tripartite Free Trade Area were concluded and the agreements signed on 10 June 2015. He said 20 countries have so far signed to join the tripartite.
Mangeni said the COMESA member states were also mulling the creation of a business passport.
“All annexes on key areas (customs, TF, standards, NTBs) have been adopted, interim arrangements for rules of origin, trade remedies and tariff offers were agreed and the Tripartite Free Trade Area can be ratified and implemented on the basis of variable geometry – willing countries can go ahead,” said Mangeni in Livingstone.
The aim of the Tripartite is to provide a single trade regime covering the COMESA-EAC-SADC region, to facilitate trade and investments.
He said regulations have been adopted with the first round of negotiations completed. According to Mangeni, 11 member states have submitted schedules of specific commitments. The first round negotiations covered transport, communication, financial and tourism services while the second will cover business, energy and construction services. He said a number of trade facilitation programmes are in operation in a number of member states like NTB system, SAD/CD, CMR, ASYCUDA in all member states while STR, Fifth Freedom, North-South Corridor, OSBP, RCTG, Yellow Card are in some member states. He said there is need to upscale and replicate these programmes.