By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The government last week signed with the European Union (EU) the three Financing Agreements to the tune of €29 million, just over M609 million to support renewable energy, equitable Lesotho and cooperation facilities and support measures.

Renewable energy has been allocated €15 million (M315 million), equitable Lesotho €8 million (M168 million), and lastly €6 million (M126 million) has been earmarked for cooperation facilities and support measures.

These Financing Agreements are under the new EU cooperation strategy (Multi-Annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027) with Lesotho.

The new cooperation strategy that was adopted in December 2021, provides €83 million, approximately M1, 7 billion for Lesotho until 2024.

Signing for the government was the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Dr Retšelisitsoe Matlanyane while the EU was represented by its Head of Delegation in Lesotho Paola Amadei.

Renewable Lesotho – Financing Agreement

The project is envisaged to ensure energy security in Lesotho, and also improve access to reliable and affordable clean energy, and promote green growth.

It will see an increase in renewable energy generation production and energy efficiency.

It will further promote a more reliable, equitable and gender-transformative access to clean energy and improve Lesotho’s energy sector leadership and institutional capacity.

Equitable Lesotho – Financing Agreement

The Overall objective (impact) of this action is to “reduce multidimensional poverty dimensions” of the most vulnerable population in Lesotho.

It is further expected to improve access to basic services, including birth registration, and sustainable energy solutions by women and children.

It will further enhance the effective delivery of social assistance systems for all beneficiaries and increase use of gender-sensitive quality data and statistics by the government and the international partners in policies and programmes’ design.  Its implementation period is slated for 96 months.

Cooperation Facility and Support Measures – Financing Agreement

This programme will see the strengthening of civil society in the country and the establishment of a cooperation facility to support implementation of the Multi-annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027 and Team Europe Initiative.

It is expected to strengthen the equitable participation and representation of women, girls and boys in all   their diversity in policy-and decision-making at all levels.

The equitable Lesotho will support the delivery of child grants and help update the National Information System for Social Assistance (NISSA) and this programme will support the use of digital payments and technology to make social protection services efficient.

It will be implemented over a period of 96 months.

The EU Head of Delegation said they have signed two implementation agreements to start working under these new programmes as soon as possible.

The first implementation agreement, she said, is with the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ) (EUR 6 Million  and German co-funding of EUR 860,000) to operationalize the component of Renewable Lesotho providing technical assistance to the public and private energy sector adding that the kick-off meeting will take place on Thursday this week.

The second implementation agreement, Amadei said it is under the auspices  of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (EUR 6 million and Unicef co-funding of EUR 826,000) to operationalize the support to social protection.

She said these new programmes offer concrete opportunities for partnership and for leveraging additional resources.

“I would like to acknowledge the co-funding we have already attracted, EUR 860,000 from the German government, and EUR 826,000 from UNICEF, for which we are indeed very thankful.

“In parallel, we are exploring opportunities to leverage even more resources to support priority large-scale energy infrastructure, in partnership with the European Investment Bank.

“Our efforts are fully aligned with Lesotho’s national priorities and the objectives of Global Gateway, the European strategy to boost smart, clean and secure links in digital, energy and transport sectors and to strengthen health, education and research systems across the world,” said the EU Lesotho’s Head of Delegation.

The Minister of Finance and Development Planning said the National Indicative Programme together with other funding streams played a vital part in enabling the country to advance towards the achievement of Lesotho’s development goals, as articulated in the National Strategic Development Plans.

“We have enjoyed a partnership that was conducive to the smooth and efficient implementation of EU funded projects.

“The Government of Lesotho is very much appreciative of the continued EU support and with the measures that have been put in place by the Government, we look forward to working toward restoration of the budget support modality,” she said.

These Financing Agreements are under the newly adopted EU cooperation strategy (Multi-Annual Indicative Programme 2021-2027).