By Thandiwe Kubere

MASERU – Lesotho’s Prime Minister Samuel Matekane gave the green light at Metsi ke Bophelo: Water and Hydrogen in a Digital Future initiative and assured Basotho of its significance and how it guarantees evolving towards better lives and an improved economy. He made his statement at a conference and exposition held at Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

PM Matekane declared the occasion marked another building block that will see Lesotho to greatness. Lesotho has been enslaved by poverty and hunger for many years; past political decisions and resulting tensions hindered progress. “We remain poor even though we have been blessed with many natural resources which could see our country flourish.” He said.

He noted that with the use of natural resources the government of Lesotho stands at the door of prosperity: water, hydrogen, oxygen, mountains, valleys, hills, diamonds, landscapes, and the people of this kingdom. “All these endowments have always been with us and yet we remain poor, underdeveloped and a beggar nation for many painful years. Despite the many challenges we have I am more than convinced that the people of this beautiful country are ready; they are ready for change! As a country we have taken stock of who we are and what nature has given to us. We stand ready to change the status quo.”

The Prime Minister made mention of the countries’ innovative and creative people who have found wealth in abundance; below and above land, and in the waters. “Today I stand here before you, the people of our country and the world. To declare to the world that Lesotho will never be the same again. This is why we are having this conference; to start the process of consultation, dialogue and discussion”.

PM Matekane noted the moment was of discussing and reflecting on what should be done with the country’s natural endowments. He stated this would not only benefit Lesotho but the rest of the African continent. It would help countries that for many years suffered the same fate as Lesotho and have resources as well.

“Our region is grappling with new challenges: water scarcity, electricity crisis and economic and societal issues. These challenges know no borders; they affect us all. Lesotho, mindful of our historical bonds and the spirit of ubuntu that binds our peoples has heeded the call to action. In the past Lesotho answered the call to support the region through a multifaceted approach that included: providing a Safe Haven, establishing Training Camps, offering Diplomatic Support, extending logistical Assistance, providing Humanitarian Aid, Broadcasting anti-apartheid messages, and Hosting Conferences and Meetings of the liberation movements”.

The aforementioned efforts were pivotal in the political struggle against apartheid, highlighting Lesotho’s unwavering commitment to justice and freedom for Africans. A new call to action has emerged—one that recognizes Lesotho’s vital role as a partner in addressing the pressing challenges of the region. Further noting that South Africa, an ally to Lesotho, deems Lesotho as its dependable water and energy supplier anchoring their agriculture industry with our abundant water resources.

Lesotho is tasked by regional demand with developing cutting-edge technologies around water endowment to benefit a few African Countries. The PM understands that the struggle has evolved from a political one to an economic one; Lesotho stands ready to rise to the occasion.

He pointed out that this requires Lesotho to transform itself, to respond to these new challenges. The critical role of water in food security is comprehended as it constitutes a significant portion of food production. “Therefore, we commit to working together with the region to explore the use of renewable energy sources like Hydrogen and Hydro Power, aligning with the changing landscape of economic challenges that face our SADC region. Our historical legacy of solidarity and support once demonstrated through political alliances is now being harnessed to address the economic challenges of our time. Lesotho stands steadfast in its commitment to a brighter and more prosperous future for all. Where justice, economic growth, equality, and unity remain our guiding principles”, he said.

He revealed that abundant water resources have the potential to provide sustainable solutions to the water challenges facing South Africa as well as the region. Lesotho stands ready to collaborate in the management and equitable distribution of this precious resource, knowing that water knows no political boundaries. “The electricity crisis in South Africa and the region resonates deeply with us, as we understand the vital importance of reliable energy sources for economic and social development”. He further stipulated that Lesotho is willing to contribute to the solution, harnessing the renewable energy’s potential to support the region’s energy needs. Furthermore, the country’s commitment to the hydrogen economy; a technology that holds the promise of clean and sustainable energy aligns with South Africa’s vision for a brighter future.

PM Matekane declared the Mountain Kingdom is eager to collaborate in the development of a hydrogen economy that can benefit both nations and the wider region. He urged Basotho to never forget their history, the sacrifices made by those who fought for liberation and the lessons learned from our shared past. “As we confront new challenges, let us continue to be guided by the principles of compassion, solidarity, and unity. Lesotho stands shoulder to shoulder with all African countries to overcome the hurdles that lie before us. Together we shall prevail, just as we did in the pursuit of justice and freedom. May our partnership pave the way to a brighter and more prosperous future for all our people.”

“It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this important conference that promises not only to transform the lives of the people of our Kingdom but also those of the rest of the region and indeed the world. May your deliberations yield important ideas and thoughts that would help us transform our economies and our societies. It is now my singular honor and privilege to declare this conference officially launched”, The Honourable Prime Minister concluded.