Thulasizwe Dlamini conducts economic policy research that is the foundation for policy decision making in Eswatini and will continue to shape policy in the Kingdom for many years to come.  

After graduating with a PhD in economics at Rhodes University in South Africa, he began his career at the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) in Pretoria, South Africa, where he worked as an agricultural economist focusing on agricultural science and technology policy analysis. He was a project economist in multiple ARC projects and has published work in local and international journals. 

He moved back to his country of birth, the Kingdom of Eswatini, to head a government policy think tank – the Eswatini Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC). One of the highlights of his time with ESEPARC was hosting the first ever Economic Conference that brought together economic policy researchers and has since become a key event for policy researchers in Eswatini. 

Thulasizwe is now the chief executive of Farmers Bank, a newly established bank in Eswatini. The bank seeks to increase food and water security in Eswatini through providing funding to farmers, with a special focus on smallholder farmers.  

His work has won him a series of local and international prizes and fellowships, including the South African Agricultural Economics Professionals Fellowship (NAMC & Cornell University), the Cochrane Fellowship (USDA – Michigan State University), and the Young Researcher of the Year Award at the ARC and the World Academy of Sciences Science Diplomacy Prize. 

Thulasizwe believes that evidence-based economic policy is imperative to helping Africa attain the aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063, Sustainable Development Goals and national development plans. He asserts that the combination of evidence-based decision making and quality funding for aspirant young African farmers will curb youth unemployment and set southern Africa and Africa as a whole on a sustainable developmental path. 

Thulasizwe grew up in a subsistence farming environment and was driven by his conviction that the problems facing subsistence farmers could be alleviated through good policies. He wants to be at the forefront of providing the evidence needed to motivate policymakers to develop and promulgate the kinds of policies that will improve the livelihoods of rural households.

Like most young African scholars, Thulasizwe experienced challenges funding his tertiary education. He resolved to work hard to get good grades that ensured that he was spotted by funders such as the Andrew Mellon Foundation and the National Research Fund of South Africa. He also worked part-time, taking up odd jobs on campuses which he says built his character. 

In the next five years, Thulasizwe would like to play a more active role in influencing the next breed of young farmers in the region and being an influential advocate for the development and enactment of pro-youth involvement in agriculture policies. 

He is hoping that his participation in this year’s TYI 100 will spotlight the importance of agricultural science and technology policy as a foundation to ending youth unemployment and food imports into Africa.