The Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Chief Thesele Maseribane says time has come for Lesotho to build trust through innovation in creating employment in a sustainable manner so as to achieve the National Strategic Plan, African Union Vision 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Chief Maseribane was speaking at the 30th annual session of the Crans Montana Forum on Innovative Financing intended to highlight a number of innovative initiatives to mobilise extra budgetary resources needed for development policies.

The forum took place in Geneva, Switzerland from June 26 to 29.

Innovative Financing refers to a range of non-traditional mechanisms to raise additional funds for development aid through innovative projects such as micro contributions, taxes, public-private partnerships and market based financial transactions.

Chief Maseribane said the forum came at an opportune time when governments are faced with serious budget shortfalls, however expressed hope that it will serve as platform to begin cordial relations and forge partnerships that will be beneficial to the nations.

He said sources of funding for Lesotho are mainly royalties from exports of water, tax, grants from development partners and dividends from state owned enterprises.

”Within an already existing project, the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology intends to build 210 new wireless sites for rural areas and once completed, this project will cover at least 95% of the entire 2 million people of Lesotho,” he said, commenting that currently, the Lesotho Government has 1, 200 kilometre (km) backbone of fibre connectivity and only 76 km is left to cover the entire country which has only two mobile phone operators.

He also mentioned that in the 2019 budget speech, Lesotho’s Minister of Finance identified Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) as one of the four key sectors to drive economic growth and create jobs, saying the forum therefore clearly speaks to the ministry’s mandate.

Chief Thesele added that in order to create a conducive environment to enable private sector participation, ICT policies are geared towards creating trust in the e-commerce sector and that e-commerce and e-transactions bill together with cyber security bill will soon be tabled in parliament.

In conclusion, Chief Maseribane said Lesotho was introduced to the economic laboratories where potential investors were identified in all sectors, saying the ICT sector has just launched two projects ahead of any other ministry.

He therefore expressed hope that innovative financing will be a game changer by creating additional funds for development through aid “Innovative” Projects and that in this forum partnership has already concluded for Digital Transformation if the initiatives will not put any added burden on the citizens.

The event brought together Ministers of Finance, ICT, senior government officials to take charge of national and regional solidarity programmes, United Nations agencies and programmes representatives, foundations, bilateral and multilateral financial institutions, private sector and non-governmental organisations.

Source: LENA 29/06/2019

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