Merg­ing of EAC, COMESA and SADC trade blocs in progress

Observer on Saturday - - News - By Ackel Zwane By Bodwa Mbingo

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.

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