MINISTER of Development Planning Tlohelang Aumane says the government will finally host the long-awaited Lesotho Job and Investment Summit on 21 and 22 August 2019.
Mr Aumane said this at a recent press briefing in Maseru.
The summit had earlier been penned in for March this year when the government held its Economic Labs initiative to stimulate job creation in response to the country’s high unemployment rates, which stood at 32, 8 percent in 2016 according to the Bureau of Statistics.
The government hosted the Economic Labs from 13 March to 4 April this year.
The initiative is a specialised public-private sector dialogue aimed at achieving investment and job creation by pinpointing and removing obstacles that impede investment.
The labs after the government adopted the methodology after attending a Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) workshop in Malaysia where the country’s experiences and those of other African countries were shared.
After the labs, Mr Aumane told our sister paper, the Lesotho Times that initiative has resulted in investment commitments of about M20 billion which will create 30 000 jobs.
The investments are expected to be pumped in through 77 high impact projects from four priority sectors of manufacturing, technology, agriculture and tourism. This is also expected to create in excess of 30 000 jobs.
The government has pondered on the job summit since 2012 as a response to high unemployment.
The Economic Labs are part of a government strategy aimed at expediting job creation by attracting private investment through pinpointing and removing the obstacles to investment. The government t intends to do this through the employment of the Big Fast Results (BRF), a method adopted to transform Lesotho from a consumer-based to a producer and export-driven economy in line with its National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP II).
PEMANDU Associates was engaged to implement the BRF.
The process began with a cabinet strategic direction workshop in December 2018 and was followed by the Economic Labs to provide sectoral focus on key initiatives leading up to the implementation of the NSDP II.
The Economic Labs produced target for jobs and gross domestic products (GDP) that can be realised through a targeted private investment. The labs engaged 399 project owners, out of which over 70 projects were prioritised after careful assessment. Based on the 80-20 BRF methodology, the Economic Labs identified that more than 30 000 direct jobs will be created from private investment of approximately M19, 9 billion and the economy will realise M14, 4 billion GDP contribution.
“The purpose of the Lesotho Job and Investment Summit is to inform the nation about the selected private investment projects that will be supported to facilitate job creation,” Mr Aumane said.
“The roadmap detailing the actions and commitment made by the government and the investors, as well as the new institutional arrangements that will facilitate private investment and job creation to achieve the planned results, will also be presented.”
He said the Economic Labs focused on unlocking investments in the four prioritised economic sectors outlined in the NSDP II namely agriculture, manufacturing, technology and innovation, and tourism and creative industries.
“The aim of the labs was to ascertain the strategic direction for each sector by assessing the industry landscape, its challenges and opportunities as well as to identify prioritised initiatives that will enable growth in these sectors,” Mr Aumane added.
Mr Aumane further indicated that a financiers and investors forum would be held on 22 August this year to highlight access to finance in recognition of its importance in facilitating private investment.
“During the Economic Labs, access to finance was identified as one of the critical issues that affect private investment.
“As a result, the government has planned to hold a financiers and investors forum on 22 August 2019 to create a platform for dialogue between financial institutions and investors on the available funding mechanisms and how to access them.
“Also, during the lab process, the government re–emphasised its commitment to addressing challenges that affect private investment and to avail specific requirements of investors in the four sectors to facilitate private investors to commit their resources in these sectors for job creation. Therefore, the government is expected to support private by M1 048 billion through public investment.
“We invite the public to review and provide their feedback on the initiatives at the summit. This signals the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability in transforming the way we operate.
“We are confident that we will be able to deliver these results with the support and confidence of the private sector and the public. Our focus now should be on relentless commitment to implementation from both the public and private sector. It is our collective duty for the welfare of all Basotho,” Mr Aumane added.