Development Planning Minister, Tlohelang Aumane, has called on Basotho who have benefited from the Chinese-sponsored human resource capacitation programme to use the skills they acquired to grow Lesotho’s ailing economy.
Aumane said this while addressing this year’s beneficiaries at a reception held at the Chinese Embassy in Maseru on Thursday. A total of 291 Basotho entrepreneurs and civil servants underwent three weeks of training in different parts of China in the month of October.
The Chinese Embassy in Maseru sends at least 300 Basotho annually to develop skills at some of the Asian county’s leading industries. The participants are drawn from the sectors of agriculture, tourism, finance, and nursing and information technology.
“This year, we organised about 300 Basotho to attend relevant training courses in China, making the total number of Lesotho trainees over 3 000 so far,” Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho HE Lei Kezhong said on Thursday.
“It is worth noting that these training courses were carefully selected based on the four key priority areas of the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II), which are agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, creative industry, technology and innovation.
“There is an old Chinese saying that says ‘one should be taught how to fish instead of being given fish’. We hope to help Basotho to realise self-reliant development through the capacity building cooperation between China and Lesotho. I believe capacity building will play a very important role in Lesotho’s social economic development,” Mr Kezhong said.
Some of this year’s beneficiaries gave testimonies of the skills they developed in China on behalf of their compatriots. They further asked for the extension of the courses from three weeks to at least three months. They also lamented on the lack of government support to implement in Lesotho what they learnt in China.
One of them, Mokhathala Moleli, a farmer from Ha Matsoete, Leribe, said that he learnt a lot in relation to agriculture and asked for Mr Aumane to facilitate government financial support.
“Agriculture can be the backbone of our economy and I learned a lot of innovative products such as; from the corn we plant, we do not only get maize meal but we can also make noodles and wine.
“However, knowledge without implementation means nothing as some of these things require machinery. We hope our plea to the government for support will lend on hearing ears in order to help Lesotho overcome the poverty scourge,” Mr Moleli said.
However, Mr Aumane expressed disappointment in the testimonies that were made on Thursday by some of the attendees, saying that he did not hear even a single one of them tell the gathering how they have implemented the skills to improve their work.
“It was our fault that we nominated wrong people. Our goal is to send people who are already active in business to go sharpen skills in order to develop the already existing businesses, not to come back and demand funds from government.
“These skills development programmes come at a crucial time when we are in the reforms process and also geared for the NSDP II. It is the Chinese who made their country what it is today not the government. It is the private sector that can lead growth through increased production in order to create jobs. The government’s wage bill is high not because it employs unnecessary people but because our GDP is low. Growing the economy through private sector can bridge that gap,” Mr Aumane said.
The minister also applauded the support of the Chinese government towards developing Lesotho in different sectors.
“The courses administered in subsequent years is dependent on the government of Lesotho’s indication of the courses that would be carried out in the coming year in synchronisation with the NSDP II priorities so that the needed skills for the implementation of the plan are sharpened.
“We are grateful that China takes the national processes very seriously when they develop their strategies; this has been evident in the way subsequent trainings are prepared and prepared and undertaken.
“The NSDP emphasises the importance of private sector led economic growth and this year, we had 200 private sector participants in these trainings, particularly in small and medium enterprises and leadership courses. It is common knowledge that the small and medium enterprises are the greatest job creators, thus, capacitating this sector is of utmost importance to our economy,” Mr Aumane said.