By: Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Addressing the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) in Nairobi, Kenya the Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane has called Kenyans to explore investment opportunities in Lesotho.

This he said during the margins of the 2023 Youth Connekt Summit held in Nairobi, Kenya.

Convened under the theme ‘Youth Innovating for a Borderless Africa Renaissance’.

Youth Connekt convenes an array of potential private sector partnerships and offers investment opportunities coming from many fields across the world to witness and potentially provide capital advancements or enroll youth enterprises into a mentorship programme to help growth innovations or startups.

“On behalf of the Government and the people of Lesotho, I would like to thank you for making time to attend this meeting to exchange information and explore potential partnerships and investment opportunities in the Kingdom of Lesotho, which ultimately would enhance opportunities for mutual development of both my country Lesotho and your country Kenya.

“Lesotho and Kenya- going beyond our respective borders to explore investment opportunities and build strategic partnerships that will lead to the sustainable development of our respective countries including our youth,” Matekane said.

He also urged the Kenyan investors to interact with Basotho youth to learn more about their business ideas and innovative solutions.

The Premier continued: “Lesotho is a GEM waiting to be explored, and I am here to invite you all to explore investment opportunities in my country for our mutual benefit.  The country presents bouquet of opportunities for private investment and partnerships, in its key development sectors, and maintains an open development policy to enable collaboration and development with external partners in line with global commitments on Financing for Development as well as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda which seeks to align financing flows and policies with economic, social and environmental priorities.”

He told Kenya’s private sector that the manufacturing industry has been a well performing sector in the country, however it is high time that it is transformed to diverse products.

“As Lesotho, we hope to link up with Kenya to take advantage of the joint capacities and comparative advantages based on the experiences from AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act], to pursue opportunities in the Africa market.

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) embodies opportunities for growth within the continent as it reportedly boasts of creating a continental free trade to a market of 55 African countries with a population of over 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) in the region of $3.4 trillion.

In attempt to boost trade and enhance cross-border trade, Kenya has announced the removal of visa requirements for all African visitors by the end of this year, a move that will see improved trade between the East African country and the rest of the continent.

“There are opportunities in the non-textile and apparel opportunities too, such as in waste management and recycling, and integrated solutions in technologies and innovations for green and climate smart agriculture and irrigation, energy, health and financial services.

“We look up to Kenya for innovations in financial services and technology. While these are emerging in Lesotho, there is high youth interest and participation,” he said.

The PM left for Kenya to attend the Youth Connekt Summit leading a delegation consisting of Ministers of Gender, Youth and Culture Hon Pitso Lesaoana, Minister of Information, Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation Hon Nthati Moorosi, the UNDP’s delegation, members of Lesotho business community and other senior government officials.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has flown 12 Basotho youth to participate at the Youth Connekt Summit that took place from 8th to 12th this month in Nairobi.

Of the 12, 10 emerged winners during the recent Sebabatso Youth Empowerment Initiative and the other two have partnered with the UNDP on waste management and recycling initiatives.

Launched on October 25th, Sebabatso YEI attracted youth across all districts in the country and they presented their business ideas before the investors and those successful won prizes  ranging from M18 000 to M90 000 to plough back into their establishments.

The beneficiaries who will be departing for Nairobi to participate at the Youth Connekt are Bokang Matlosa, Ts’oanelo Thonkha, Morakane Semoko, Lipontseng Violet Makhosane, Limpho Thoahlane, Mamothibe Portia Mothibe, Mokhethi Gilbert Phohlo, Lerato Masupha, Rapitso Mosebetsi, Thikoi Constance Molapi who emerged winners during the Sebabatso YEI launch and Bataung Madane and Rethabile Molumo who have partnered with the UNDP on waste management and recycling initiative.

According to the UNDP Lesotho’s Resident Representative Dr Jacqueline Olweya the Youth Connekt is a resourceful experience where young people across the continent meet with an intention of empowering them through a multifaceted approach.

She added: “This initiative exposes youth to an incomparable platform to link and address their needs with their peers, policymakers, business leaders, development partners, and the civil society. This is where multiple solutions to their challenges are being unearthed and shared for investments, replication and cross continental partnerships.

“UNDP as a partner to the Youth Connekt Africa, felt obliged to support the Sebabatso innovators and entrepreneurs to take advantage of this magnificent and empowering economic development initiative.”

The PM had also had an audience with the President of Kenya William Ruto.

“Kenya and Lesotho share a deep understanding that Africa’s future must be invested in its youth. The youth are the undisputed agents that the continent requires for its rapid socioeconomic transformation,” reads a Facebook post of Kenya’s President.