AS stated in last week’s edition, come February 2014, the world will discuss the plight of the youths at a youth indaba with respect to mainstreaming them in the economy of their respective countries. That is why I decided to share my thoughts on how Lesotho can address this mammoth challenge. In the last installment, I suggested shortterm solutions to the youth unemployment issue and this week I delve into how we can tackle it in the medium-term.
Medium-Term: Two to five years Lesotho urgently needs to invest in the conservation and storage of water through the construction of dams and the youth should be employed in their construction all over the country.
Lesotho needs more dams to hold water and reclaim eroded land. Apart from the scheduled construction of large dams under the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the Lowlands
Water Scheme, we also need small dams across the country. Water-availability is very critical and we need to start doing something about it now.
Our national roads also need repair and maintenance. There is need for the rehabilitation
of road-markings and guardrails as well as the construction of roads some in areas where they are non-existent.
Also, roads within our residential areas need to be repaved and maintained allthe time. These initiatives can be implemented using the fato-fato principle and the same reward system.
Long-Term: Five years and beyond The empowerment of youths can also be addressed through facilitating and enabling educated and skilled youths to seek jobs overseas in such countries as the Scandinavia region, North America, Canada, Europe and Middle East.
Their remittances will help contribute to the country’s economic growth. Millions, if not billions of dollars, could be collected in this manner. This money can then be channeled to economic growth.
The other important benefit will be the youths’ exposure to first-world economies and systems in accordance with international standard organisations (ISO) stipulations.
This exposure and expertise can be ploughed back to the country’s economy.
Brain-drain will be beneficial to Basotho through brain gain.
local tailors need to learn how to produce quality products that the Ministry of Trade and Industry is able to facilitate marketing for regional and offshore markets using Lesotho’s diplomatic missions.
The Chinese can be requested to assist in ensuring the production of quality products. In and around Maseru and in the districts, the Chinese are tailoring forbthe most prominent elite of this country, which means Basotho are happy with the workmanship of the Chinese.
Lesotho should be able to sell contemporary designs of Seshoeshoe products to the world. Students from Limkokwing have exhibited their skills in the design of Basotho blankets. Their products need to be enhanced for the world market.
Actually, I would be happy to see the Aranda Blanket Company of South Africa partnering with our youth in manufacturing the blankets from twine and wool to designs of completed products.
I would also want to see the Three Cats Company partnering with Basotho youth in manufacturing the Seshoeshoe cloth that has become synonymous with the tradition and culture of Basotho.
The same goes for the blanket industry. We have seen how, in the Limpopo province of South Africa, the Ndebele have transformed culture to both an income-generating activity and a tourism hub.
Lesotho does not even have traditional toys to sell to local, regional and international
tourists on a large scale. This business venture should also be given to our youth and in partnership with renowned toy-making companies.
I do not understand why, up to now, Lesotho cannot manufacture school uniforms such as dresses, shirts, blazers, socks, ties, buttons etc. Again, why should Lesotho not manufacture all uniforms and linen needed in the medical arena?
All the uniforms worn in parastatals should be tailored by Basotho. All the uniforms worn by the security forces (soldiers, police, prison warders and prisoners).
Even local hotels should be encouraged to buy local as far as their uniforms are concerned.
I am of the opinion that the Ministry of Education and Training should revise its goals and objectives to ensure sports training becomes part of the education curriculum. Talented children in the various sporting disciplines should be nurtured from as tender an age as four. They
should continue up to tertiary education level. The beauty of this approach is that students are exposed to sport at an early age.
I hope one day to see at least a 100 local athletes performing at international sporting events. Sport is one area which is dominated by the youth and our country offers an excellent landscape for high-altitude training.
I hope the Youth Indaba will consider these points to ensure our youth can be productive in an effective manner.
Government should consider these ideas and work hard to mobilise funding, woo development-partners and donor-agencies to ensure they can be realised.
Lesotho’s diplomatic missions abroad should not rest in looking for the necessary expertise and funding.
It is my wish that the plight of the youth in Lesotho can be seriously addressed to ensure we harness their positive energies into productive developmental and environmental
endeavours with good financial rewards.
If the youth indaba does take place, I will be keeping keen attention to the deliberations and their outcome.