Government holds financiers, investors forum

In an endeavour to address unemployment, Government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Development Planning has on Thursday held a financiers and investors forum in Maseru.

In his remarks, Minister of Finance Dr Moeketsi Majoro indicated that the inaccessibility of credit and capital is a major impediment to the development of Lesotho’’s private sector, particularly Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as he noted that it prevents them from acquiring the new technology that would make them more productive and more competitive.

He emphasised that there is an urgent need for collaborative efforts by all stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the credit needs of the sector for the identified projects from the economic labs which are awaiting for the adequate financing, more especially the start-ups and SMEs.

According to Dr Majoro, SMEs are a major component of the private sector which has been identified as the engine for growth in the overall development effort of the government of Lesotho, adding that over 80 percent of all registered businesses in Lesotho fall within this category.

He therefore indicated that the perfect entrepreneurial idea is essential before commencing business, the issue of financing comes last.

Speaking at the same Forum, Minister of Development Planning, Dr Tlohelang Aumane commended investors and financiers for prioritising the matter of employment.

He noted that it could only be through close collaboration by those responsible that Lesotho would be a better place for doing business, saying this will help overcome the obstacle of access to finance which has been bothering people.

On the other hand, Director Policy and Strategic Planning, Ms. Mahlape Ramoseme disclosed that they have identified 23 projects which require funding for their successful implementation.

She revealed that in ensuring the success of implementing National Strategic Development Plan II (NSDP II), the Government of Lesotho (GoL) has engaged with PEMANDU Associates to share their National Transformation Programme experience in Malaysia and other countries such as Tanzania, Nigeria, Botswana, Senegal, St. Lucia Russia and India.

In an interview with one of the Entrepreneurs, Mr. Timothy Thamae from the Department of Research and Innovation at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) expressed their heartfelt gratitude as entrepreneurs for this initiative, saying they had long awaited it.

He said business ideas are not a problem, but capital to commence such businesses remained a major constraint.

Meanwhile, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings, Lesotho is ranked 106 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, and access to credit is a main constraint as Lesotho sits at 85 while South Africa and Namibia are ranked 73 comparatively with Southern African Customs Union (SACU) counterparts in the region.

NSDP I time-frame was 2012/13 until 2016/17, however it has not fully achieved its objectives.

NSDP II emphasises on private sector development and pursue sustainable inclusive growth. It faces out in 2022/23

According to the study conducted by Department of Bureau of Statistics (BOS) under the Ministry of Development Planning in 2015/16, unemployment rate in Lesotho was  estimated at 32. 8 percent with 36 percent being youth particularly.