Maseru — The Ministry of Development planning has embarked on an investment programme formulation within the national strategic development plan (NSDP).
The NSDP is meant to create job opportunities and enhance economic growth.
In an interview with the Sunday Express last week, the Minister of Development Planning Moeketsi Majoro shed some light on how his ministry intends to translate the NSDP to an investment programme to be launched next year.
The country’s national strategic development plan 2012-17 provides an opportunity to identify key levers for getting the country on a sustainable development path.
“Faced with tight fiscal conditions, all levels of government must achieve policy goals with fewer resources,” Majoro said.
“The NSDP strives to link production centres and markets to facilitate external trade and global integration. What the investment will do is to bring the process down to a measurable scenario,” Majoro said.
“The linkage will enhance the skills base, technology adoption and foundation for innovation and improve health, combat HIV and Aids and reduce vulnerability,” he said.
The programme which is currently under formulation will, according to the minister, mobilise domestic and foreign savings and improve the investment climate as well as promote economic diversification.
“The investment programme is about what brand of economics will fire-up Lesotho’s economy,” said Majoro.
“It will be orchestrated largely on commercial agriculture, tourism, transformation of textiles manufacturers and the undefined pieces of information communication technology (ICT) and digital migration,” he added.
Basotho will need to transform from subsistence farming to a commercialised farming, which the investment programme seeks to bolster.
“Growth and jobs are perennial goals for policymakers and are more urgent than ever hence it is not dithering to commercialise our farming given the adequate land we have in Lesotho,” he said.
The minister pointed out that forestry fruit projects at places like Qoqolosing, Mahobong and Sehlabeng are examples of the initiatives the government is planning to develop and absorb the South African market.
“If managed properly, commercial farming represents potentially important growth-enhancing projects in alleviating the stubbornly high unemployment rates,” said Majoro.
Investment programmes will gear towards shifting Basotho from unsystematic farming to a market-linked farming which makes it easy for them to grow “market oriented products”.
He emphasised that the outlook is increasingly grim so it calls for a need to use land profitably while also being strategic in sustainable land management practices which would revitalise degraded lands.
Majoro showed that Lesotho has a higher rate of land degradation in environmentally fragile areas which are normally home to the poorest and most vulnerable rural populations.
Lesotho has a wealth of assets that differentiate it from other destinations around the world, including unique landscapes and nature-based tourism offerings which Majoro hailed as “good aspects of tourism the investment programme would entail”.
He further added that improved quality, product choice, skills and infrastructure will maximise and sustain economic value from Lesotho’s natural advantages as a tourism destination.
On transformation of textile industry, Majoro said that apart from providing direct employment to thousands of people in the mill, power loom and hand loom sectors, the textile industry occupies an important place in the economy of the country because of its contribution to export earnings.
“Apparel is the typical ‘starter’ industry for countries engaged in export-oriented industrialisation, and it plays the leading role in developing countries like Asia’s early export growth to the United States.”
Talking about how international trade could be a pivot for sustained economic growth, Majoro said the programme is hoped to transform the textile industry to be Basotho-owned while forging the market to European Union countries and nearby South Africa.
“Trade-based growth becomes a vehicle for genuine industrial upgrading, so indigenising the textile industry could be a pivotal role in stimulating employment creating economic growth”, he said.
The investment programme will enhance facilitation of ICT development and access to base ICT infrastructure, especially “broad brand as well as migration from analogue to digital mode”.
“This will allow the development of ancillary industries such as call centres, films and music industry”, Majoro concluded.
The NSDP targets the attainment of 50 000 private sector jobs and long-term Gross Domestic Product growth of five percent per annum, which will double the size of Lesotho’s economy every 16 years.