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Technology bill seeks to create jobs

 

Pascalinah Kabi

CABINET has approved the Science and Technology Bill which seeks to end the country’s high unemployment rate.

Addressing a press briefing this past week, Communication, Science and Technology Minister Khotso Letsatsi said the bill was passed by cabinet on Tuesday.

The bill, he said, also seeks to establish the Lesotho Innovation Trust Fund which would bankroll science and technology innovations.

“Cabinet passed the Science and Technology Bill on Tuesday and it will now be debated in Parliament before it becomes law,” said Mr Letsatsi.

“This initiative is meant to ensure that science and technology innovations by Basotho are appreciated and nurtured so they can grow to become businesses that provide employment.”

The Bill seeks to centralise and coordinate science and technology issues by establishing a 12-member Lesotho Innovation Trust Fund (LITF) which would ensure there is financial support for deserving innovators.

The minister noted the LITF would consist of representatives from the private sector, parastatals, government representatives and three nominees from institutions of higher learning as well as three science and technology experts.

Mr Letsatsi said his ministry’s Science and Technology department Director Lefu Thamae would head the secretariat of the LITF as stipulated by the bill.

The bill also stipulates the identification of science and technology contact people from every government ministry “since it cuts across all sectors including agriculture and health among others”.

He said the proposed law also seeks to protect the intellectual property rights of innovators.

“The bill has a section dealing with intellectual property rights to ensure science and technology ideas are not stolen from their rightful owners after being disclosed to members of the public or the commission itself,” said Mr Letsatsi.

“The bill also seeks to ensure that science and technology researches for the betterment of the country are implemented.

“It is a well-known fact that most promising science and technology ideas and innovations have not seen the light of the day because of the absence of a law that fosters their development. Cabinet’s decision to pass this bill was a move in the right direction aimed at reverse this unfortunate reality.”

He said some National University of Lesotho (NUL) students had many viable science and technology ideas which only needed support and funding.

“Their projects include a potato production innovation which will be introduced in the region and a venture for processing dairy products such as yoghurt,” said Mr Letsatsi, adding a young innovator had also approached his office about developing an airplane.

 

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