THE Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) says its M1 billion Ha Belo Industrial Estate project in Butha Buthe will greatly enhance Lesotho’s manufacturing portfolio by hosting factories and creating more than 42 000 jobs.
In a recent interview with the Sunday Express, LNDC Chief Executive Officer, Mohato Seleke, said the 51 factory shells which constructed on the estate will be designed to cater for the textile industry, agri-business and other sectors.
The estate measures 51 000m2 and Mr Seleke said Ha Belo was chosen as the site because of its proximity to the Caledon Border Post with neighbouring South Africa which will make it attractive to investors for import and export purposes. The area was also identified because of the limited investment opportunities in the district.
The construction which will be undertaken by Unik Construction Engineering will be in different phases. Phase one of construction is scheduled to take 36 months and this will result in the erection of 16 factory shells as well as the construction of other support infrastructure including such as a 6.5km double lane asphalt road, storm drainage works, an 8.3km water reticulation system and wastewater treatment plant.
The 16 factory shells will be on different floors and the construction is expected to create 3 000 jobs while the factories will have the capacity to employ 14 250 people.
Mr Seleke said the new facility would be a significant development to the manufacturing sector.
“The manufacturing sector, which is currently made of the textile industry currently employs approximately 40 000 people so this industrial estate will cover all those at the Ha Tikoe, Thetsane, Station and Maputsoe factories as it will have the capacity to accommodate an additional 42 000 people once the 51 shells are complete, making it the biggest single development by the government.
“After the completion of the 16 factory shells under phase one, we will, over the years, erect more shells until there are 51 complete shells. They will be of different sizes and designs to enable them to accommodate different manufacturing businesses.”
He further said that the LNDC was keen to invest in the capacity building of Basotho factories to enable them to expand to new markets beyond the traditional South Africa and United States of America markets.
“The manufacturing sector is currently underperforming and only explores just a small fraction of the textile sector and limited itself to the markets of South Africa and America.
“The primary function of LNDC is to promote trade and investment opportunities so we will be investing a lot of resources to help open up new markets. The focus will be on capacitating Basotho already in manufacturing and we will revise our policies in order to make it easier for them to occupy the new factories.
“I cannot reveal much at this juncture except to say that the LNDC is gearing up for the industrialisation of agriculture to improve on our product portfolio is currently very narrow which makes our market vulnerable. This will be part of our new strategic plan which we will reveal officially next week,” he said.