FOCAC to prioritise Lesotho’s development needs
THE Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, Sun Xianghua, is optimistic that the forthcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which will be held in Beijing, China in September this year will result in greater benefits for Lesotho.
The last FOCAC summit was held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2015 and during that summit, the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, identified the bottlenecks holding back Africa’s development, namely, inadequate infrastructure, lack of professional and skilled personnel as well as funding challenges.
Lesotho has since the 2015, benefitted from FOCAC in the areas of infrastructure, health, agriculture and human resource training. Some of the milestones include the construction of the State House, provision of medical equipment and human resource capacity building which has resulted in the training of at least 1000 Basotho in China.
Dr Xianghua said the importance of Lesotho to China was demonstrated by the recent visit by a team of five Chinese experts on a fact-finding mission to get input from local experts on Lesotho’s expectations from the September summit.
The local experts were drawn from government, the National University of Lesotho and the media.
“FOCAC has been a major platform for China-Africa’s improved relations for the past 18 years with the main aim of helping developing African countries boost their economy,” Dr Xianghua said.
“Since the 2015 summit, we have been catching up in Lesotho through various ways which include infrastructure, health, agriculture and human resource training. Thousands of Basotho have already trained in China for this past three years and by the end of this year we will have awarded over a 100 government scholarships to Basotho to study in China.”
He said he was confident that Lesotho would reap even greater benefits as the Chinese experts learnt of the country’s needs which China would use to prepare its development assistance for the next three years.
“The visit of the Chinese experts was fruitful and important as they had three meetings with government and the civil society as well as the National University of Lesotho. They were able to learn of the special needs of Lesotho and how its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can be met in the best possible way.
“They said that they discovered that tourism in Lesotho remains an untapped pot of gold but they are glad it is part of Lesotho’s SDGs which will make it easier for China to assist in boosting the sector. We have started working towards boosting tourism as the road to Sehlabathebe National Park will be constructed soon. The transfer of skills to Basotho and infrastructure development remain key elements which will be addressed at the September summit.
“This was the first time that China has solicited Lesotho’s opinion about FOCAC therefore I am confident that we will achieve more in the coming three years as the visit proved that there is so much attention on Lesotho,” Dr Xianghua said.
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