LNDC hosts investment summit

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Rethabile Pitso

THE Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC), in collaboration with the Global Business Roundtable (GBR), on Sunday held the first annual National Trade and Investment Summit with the aim of exploring potential business opportunities in Lesotho.

The four-day summit, which ended yesterday with a tour of Katse Dam, was attended by participants from Tanzania, Nigeria, South Africa as well as local businesspeople seeking networking opportunities.

GBR is a networking initiative based on Christian principles and founded in South Africa in 2009. Its stated vision is to “Make Africa the epic destination of trade and investment globally by 2050” through the creation of investment opportunities.

The group, which has over 3000 members spread across various three continents, has also launched similar initiatives in South Africa, Nigeria, USA, Canada, Ghana, Kenya, Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, France and Spain.

LNDC Head of Investment Promotions, Mokhethi Shelile, said Lesotho has numerous business opportunities especially in such areas as mining, energy, finance, tourism, infrastructure and ICT, that investors can take advantage of whilst also developing the country’s economy.

Mr Shelile said the corporation is working towards linking the value chain of the textile industry by ensuring home-grown raw materials are supplying the manufacturing sector. He added that they are also exploring short to long-term business opportunities and partnerships with investors.

“Currently, we export around 70 million t-shirts and 26 million jeans per year. What we now need to do is establish a fabric mill for producing more t-shirts from local raw materials,” said Mr Shelile.

“We have already managed to attract an investor from a Taiwanese company who has injected $200 million. This means we can now embark on a new operation to locally produce all the components needed to make the final product here in Lesotho.”

He said the LNDC had already undertaken experiments to ascertain which varieties of cotton can be cultivated locally, with the results thereof eliciting positive results.

Mr Shelile also assured the summit participants that Lesotho’s geographical position of being completely surrounded by South Africa is not necessarily a disadvantage as local industries have managed to make inroads in the neighbouring country, especially in the textile industry.

He said Lesotho had attracted several international automotive firms that manufacture car seats and other dispensable parts and, in the process, rescued their South African operations where the production of the components had become expensive.

“Lesotho is uniquely positioned within South Africa, a country which is currently the central hub of the automotive industry in Africa. SA, however, approached us since we could produce the automotive components such as car seats with the skills we possess in the textile industry,” said Mr Shelile.

“It was no longer cost effective for SA to produce some of those components themselves hence Lesotho’s proposition for the two countries to work together in assisting distressed companies.

“So far, two companies have come on board, including Johnson Control and Automotive Leather Company who are already operational in the country.”

He added that the corporation was also looking for a partner in establishing a national communication network infrastructure to reduce costs telecom companies incur.

 

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