THE recent Lesotho Investment Economic Laboratory attracted new business ventures in the fields of aviation, pharmaceuticals, medical cannabis and e-payment companies among others.
This was said by Finance Minister Moeketsi Majoro in an interview with the Lesotho Times.
Dr Majoro’s comments come after the 13 March to 4 April 2019 Economic Laboratory dialogue. The dialogue was a specialised public-private sector dialogue aimed at achieving investment and job creation by pinpointing and removing obstacles that impede investment.
The initiative was held after the government adopted the methodology after attending a Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) workshop in Malaysia where the country’s experiences and those of other African countries were shared.
After the completion of the dialogues, the government last week announced that investors who participated in the Economic Laboratory have pledged to inject M20 billion into the local economy over the next four years.
The Minister of Development Planning, Tlohelang Aumane, recently told the Lesotho Times that the initiative resulted in investment commitments of about M20 billion which are expected to create 30 000 jobs.
He said the investments are expected to be pumped in through 77 high impact projects from four priority sectors of manufacturing, technology, agriculture and tourism.
The initiative is in response to the high rate of unemployment in the country, which according to the Bureau of Statistics, was 32, 8 percent in 2016, although the figure is believed to have since risen in recent years.
In a recent interview with the Lesotho Times, Dr Majoro said the initiative which targeted to attract M10 billion investment, has more than met expectations.
“The lab targeted total investments of M10 billion but has so far gathered M19, 9 billion,” Dr Majoro said.
He said the initiative, which was also meant to identify barriers to investment, has identified excessive red tape, fragmented investor services and lack of start-up capital as some of the examples of investment barriers.
Dr Majoro said the next step is to share with Basotho the intentions of the investors, namely on the planned investments, the size of the investments and the number of jobs to be created.
“An open day and job summit will be held in early May in this regard. Thereafter, an implementation roadmap will be published, providing details on the tasks for investors and for the government.
“That said, the list includes agribusiness projects including fruit, vegetable, cannabis, hemp, textile and other manufacturing, aviation services, pharmaceutical products, creative arts school, tourism ecosystem systems, and e-payment services,” Dr Majoro added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, who officially opened and closed the initiative, has appealed to the investors to bring in the investments which they promised as this would help to invite more private companies to invest in the country.
“We want the Big Fast Results — the name talks for itself, and we are not intending to do otherwise. I learn that there is a saying in Big Fast Results lingo that “A plan without resources is just a draft”.
“Therefore, where substantial investments are required, the ministries for finance and development planning should take the lead and work together with our development partners in mobilising new resources whilst maintaining macroeconomic stability and reprogramming where possible to ensure that the required public investments that will unlock the identified private investments can be secured.
“We should also continue to look at the investment incentives and regulatory frameworks with the aim of improving the investment climate.
“Furthermore, the lead ministers from the four selected sectors have already made their commitment for implementation. However, it is clear that they cannot solve the issues alone without synergy with other sectors. I would like to commit myself that I will ensure collaboration across all sectors during the implementation period. No more silos ladies and gentlemen, the silo mentality should be the thing of the past,” Dr Thabane said.