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Lemohang Rakotsoane

MASERU – CORRUPTION, HIV/AIDS and a serious mismatch of skills are among key factors contributing to Lesotho’s low economic growth.

This was revealed by Dr Maluke Letete, a senior economics lecturer at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) on Tuesday during the economic outlook review hosted by Stanlib.

Letete said these factors deter potential investors and cause existing investors to hold back from increasing their labour force, leaving thousands of individuals without jobs.

He added that the current political climate has escalated corruption as people are insecure and uncertain if they will still have a job in case a new government takes over tomorrow.

“People are no longer certain as to when a new government will take office, so when they have been afforded a chance they tend to want to raise as much money as they can, that can sustain them even when they are no longer in office,” Letete said.

“They end up stealing public funds that could have been used constructively for the benefit of the nation.”

Letete said the current political uncertainty has seen lots of investors deferring their plans to invest in Lesotho.

He further said there is also the issue of inadequate skills among graduates, which contributes to high unemployment rates.

Letete said the declining SACU revenue should be a wake-up call for Lesotho to introspect and make cohesive decisions about the direction that Lesotho should take to grow the economy.

He stated that poor fiscals contribute to inadequate productivity.

“Having a labour force that is infected (with HIV) and not having enough money to help them stay on top of their game translates into low productivity,” Letete said.

He added that HIV/AIDS prevalence also threatens potential tourists as people start questioning their safety when they think of visiting the country.

Letete further indicated that unstable policy and weak institutions also contribute to the private sector’s reluctance to borrow to expand their businesses.

** Kevin, from Stanlib, said the world at large is in a stagnant mode in terms of economic growth due to several factors.

He said among key factors is increase in global protection, lack of fixed investment spending, an ageing population in developed markets, the rebalancing of the Chinese economy and lack of confidence.

He said in developed and emerging economies there is a serious decline in population as people choose to have few children or none at all.

“This means that there are few people who will venture into the labour market, due to low population numbers as well as the youth’s reluctance to venture into the labour market,” Kevin said.

“Youths prefer to study rather than work and as a result they venture into the labour market at an old age,” he said.

He added that such countries also tend to prefer hiring old people compared to the youth as old people are much cheaper.

“All they want is to supplement their pension and therefore they are not looking for a lot of money in terms of salaries, not looking up for bonuses or promotions because they do not have to worry about their future,” Kevin said.

He said that practice harms the economy as old people do not spend the same way as the youths do.

“They are more conscious about how they spend their money. A 70-year-old doesn’t shop the same way a 35-year-old shops,” he said.

Kevin further said there is lack of confidence in the world currently, forcing those with money to keep it in their accounts and not invest it.

“There is a leadership crisis in the world at the moment, people need strong leaders and they vote for them but they tend to turn out as idiots,” Kevin said.

He said the corruption rate in the world is also escalating, worsening the already non-performing economies.

He also said there is a lack of equality hence money is circulating within a few people.

“Eighty percent of the world’s richest people have the money that 3.5 billion people of the world’s poorest people don’t have,” Kevin said.

The general feeling at the meeting was that there is a need to focus on policies on other sectors and not only focus on the monetary sector.

It was agreed that there is need to focus on industrialisation and trade policies and also invest in infrastructure in order to stimulate the economy.

It was observed that there is a need to empower SMMEs as they have the potential in terms of job creation and growing the economy.

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Short courses for ex-mineworkers

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THE Lesotho Diamond Academy has introduced mining short courses, particularly to ex-mineworkers, to help them re-enter the mining sector.
The Essential Introductory Courses, which will run for two weeks, will start from June this year. The courses are meant particularly for people who worked in mines in South Africa.

The Academy’s CEO, Relebohile Molefe, unveiled the new courses during the graduation of 18 students last week, four of whom are now armed with Cutting and Polishing certificates while 14 graduated with Rough Diamond Evaluation certificates.

The new courses include the Essential Certificate in Diamond Grading and the Essential Certificate in Diamond Evaluation.

“The decision to offer these courses aligns with the Academy’s dedication to bridge the gap and ensure that individuals with valuable experience can seamlessly reintegrate into the diamond and jewelry industry,” Molefe said.

“By providing short courses, the academy does not only impart essential skills but also contributes to the sector’s growth by reactivating experienced individuals who had lost access to the industry due to no formal documents showing their experience in the industry,’’ she said.

During the graduation celebration, Molefe also unveiled a new sponsorship programme for various courses.

One outstanding student previously sponsored, who demonstrated exceptional proficiency in Rough Diamond Evaluation, was granted a fully funded bursary to further his studies into Advanced Certificate in Round Diamond Brilliantering.

In pursuit of its multifaceted objectives, one of which is to serve as a catalyst for employers in the diamond and jewelry sector to devise skills development strategies, the Academy is set to sponsor four additional students in the upcoming intake starting from February 15.

Two of these bursaries will afford a 30 percent discount on overall fees for two students progressing from Cutting and Polishing to advanced studies in Rough Diamond Evaluation.

Two will be fully funded bursaries to study for a Certificate in Diamond Cutting and Polishing.

Additionally, the institution will extend two fully funded bursaries to the public, fostering inclusivity and expanding opportunities.

The Academy says it plans to announce the search for two deserving Basotho individuals on its social media pages and website.

“Importantly, the bursary programme bears no age restrictions, reflecting a commitment to fairness and inclusiveness, ensuring that opportunities are accessible to all, irrespective of age,” it says in a statement.

The Academy says it seeks “to be a dynamic force in shaping the industry, not just within national borders, but also on regional and international platforms”.

“The emphasis on competitiveness within these markets underscores the institution’s commitment to producing graduates who are not only proficient but also globally competitive,” the statement reads.

“The recent graduation ceremony symbolises a milestone in the Academy’s journey. The success of its students is a testament to the quality of education and the foresight embedded in the curriculum.”

The Academy says its decision to sponsor further education for outstanding performers reflects a belief in nurturing talent and contributing to the continuous improvement of the diamond industry.

The Lesotho Diamond Academy was founded by the late Mpalipali Molefe, a prominent educator, diamond trader and an MP, who recognised the imperative to elevate professionalism in the diamond industry.

Staff Reporter

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Bank hands over uniforms to students

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THE Lesotho Post Bank donated uniforms to students at Leqele High School worth a staggering M60 000 as part of its Back-To-School campaign.
The bank said it did this “to keep needy children in school and to promote their education”.

A teacher at the school, Tšepo Semethe, said the uniforms will likely motivate the students to work harder in their studies.

Semethe insisted on giving the bank the names of the students so that it could check their performance at the end of the year.

“At Leqele High School, we work very hard because what we want is excellence above all. To us, hard work pays,” he said.

The bank’s Chief Risk Officer, Molefi Khama, said they are getting old, they will soon retire and Lesotho Post Bank will be in the hands of these children.

He pleaded with the students to work harder.

“This is why we decided to come here to support the students in their education so that when coming to school, they should be confident,” Khama said.

“We are watching you and waiting on you,” he said.

The school’s head prefect, Tholoana Monatsi, said from now on, “no student will be identified by what they wear”.

“(Lesotho) Post Bank made us one and we thank them for that because what we wear cannot stand before our education. We indeed thank you and forever you will hold special places in our hearts,” she said.

A parent, ’Marorisang Latela, said they were very grateful for the gift from Lesotho Post Bank adding that they must also donate to other schools.

Minister of Trade, Mokethi Shelile, promised to go back to the school to discuss how the children could learn in comfortable surroundings.

Relebohile Tšepe

 

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Mamello School of Special Needs wins prize

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MAMELLO School of Special Needs is the first-place winner of Standard Lesotho Bank’s Scaled-Up Pitching Den held at Maseru Avani on Tuesday.
The school has secured a grand prize for an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya to participate as a finalist representing Lesotho at the Standard Bank Africa Awards.

The school, pioneered in 2020 during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic through Zoom classes, deals with children who live with conditions such as autism, attachment disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) dyslexia, Down syndrome and slow learners.


STKTM Solutions claimed the second-place spot, receiving a commendable M10 000, while Masia Farms secured third place and a M5 000 prize.


Pheello Masia of Masia Farms, thanked Standard Lesotho Bank for backing their vision and that of other Basotho entrepreneurs.


He acknowledged that the bank’s faith in their endeavours serves as a source of inspiration, propelling them to work harder and foster growth within the community.


The event, aimed at fortifying support and fostering regional integration for Basotho entrepreneurs across the African continent, showcased the bank’s commitment to driving the growth of Lesotho.


Malatola Phothane, Head of Enterprise Banking at Standard Lesotho Bank, set the tone in his welcoming remarks.


“As Standard Lesotho Bank, through business and commercial banking, we strive to turn possibilities into opportunities,” Phothane said.


“Lesotho is our home, and we drive her growth,” he said.


His words resonated with the bank’s dedication to nurturing local talent and fostering economic development.


Phothane acknowledged the eight finalists, commending them for their resilience and passion for their businesses.


He emphasised how each entrepreneur had stood their ground, displaying knowledge and unwavering commitment.


The recognition not only highlighted the achievements of the finalists but also underscored the bank’s role in recognising and uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit within the community.


Aliciah Motšoane, founder of Prestige Furnitures and Sentebale Gap Funeral Services, played a significant role at the event as a motivational speaker, sharing her entrepreneurial journey filled with challenges and triumphs.


She recounted her humble beginnings when she was selling bread in high school, leading to the establishment of Prestige Furnitures in 1998.


Despite facing a significant setback after her shop was burnt down during the riots and incurring a loss of M5 million, Motšoane never gave up.


She said business is always a demanding endeavour adding that it needs hard work and a unique mindset.


She urged entrepreneurs to embrace their roots, seek inspiration, and persevere through challenges.


The keynote speaker, the bank’s Head of Business and Commercial Clients, Keketso Makara, said the bank is committed to foster a thriving business environment, highlighting the pivotal role of youth collaboration across diverse economic sectors.


Makara said their mandate aims to empower youths in steering the private sector towards growth, contributing to economic diversification.


Makara urged the eight finalists to actively involve bankers in refining their proposals for maximum impact on economic stimulation and sustainable development.


The bank said the Scaled-Up Pitching Den not only served as a stage for entrepreneurs to present their ventures but also acted as a driving force for networking, collaboration, and collective empowerment.

Staff Reporter

 

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