US invests in growing Lesotho’s economy


To fuel economic growth, social development, and poverty reduction in Lesotho, the United States of America has provided Lesotho with a US$300 million health and horticulture compact grant, which is equivalent to M5 533 740 000 billion through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). The funds are part of the USA Assistance Strategy for Lesotho and will be used to improve the quality of life for Basotho, strengthen the business environment, and promote economic diversification for inclusive and job-creating growth.

Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane acknowledged the significance of MCC scorecards in the competitive selection process, which assesses the government’s accomplishments and milestones throughout the year and determines eligibility for MCC compact funding. He expressed humility and gratitude for the progress achieved thus far, emphasising the commitment for further improvement in the upcoming year.

“We stand here today humbled by the modest progress we have made together thus far, and we hope to build on that momentum to do even better in the coming year,” Matekane said. He highlighted the need for government officials to continue their efforts and not become complacent, as there is still significant work to be done in the areas of fiscal policy, trade policy, land rights and access, and natural resource protection.

He expressed his commitment to providing data to assess the girls’ primary education completion rate, which he believes the country is performing well in.

“In the upcoming year, the government will prioritise policies to address the shortcomings in fiscal policy, trade policy, land rights, and access, as they have already identified some of the reasons for the poor performance in these areas,” he said.

He further indicated that the government is committed to promoting gender equality by providing women and men with the same access to legal and public institutions and to participate in economic opportunities.

Additionally, he said the government has embraced technology and innovation, recognising their transformative power. He said that is why the government has launched SEBABATSO, which will focus on fostering youth innovation ideas and businesses.

Sebabatso is an important platform that is dedicated to displaying youth ideas and businesses. Matekane said they are proud to have become a government that fosters youth entrepreneurship development, which is driving growth and creating new avenues for progress.

“Our commitment to control and eliminate corruption remains steadfast. We are working tirelessly to expose corrupt activities, keep the public sector honest and accountable, and ensure public servants work in the best interest of Basotho. Our efforts to reduce and control corruption have strengthened the quality of our service to Basotho. The commitment we have made to investing in people has never wavered over the years. It gives us great pride to be able to ensure that all Basotho have access to quality health services through the comprehensive strengthening of our health systems. Our initiatives in health services have focused on providing equal opportunities for every Mosotho, regardless of their background and location,” he said.

He further showed appreciation to the United States government for the investments they have received under Compact 1 in the health sector and the additional support they are getting under the second compact.

“Once again, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the American government and its people for their unwavering support of Lesotho and Basotho. The US$300 million Health and Horticulture Compact grant will undoubtedly propel our economic vision and help fight unemployment and poverty. This grant is a testament to the long diplomatic friendship enjoyed by the two nations,” he said.

He also addressed the Minister of Finance and Development Planning and her staff at MCA Lesotho, who are entrusted with the grant received, to make sure every cent is used for the good of Basotho.

“I will ensure that every American dollar invested in this compact is used efficiently to maximise the impact of this compact on the country. Together, let us continue to build a brighter future for our beautiful nation. We commit to working hard to make this a success for the benefit of Basotho”, he said.

Meanwhile, Maria Brewer, the US Ambassador to Lesotho, expressed her satisfaction in revealing the Lesotho MCC scorecard results for the fiscal year 2024.

“I want to take this moment to express my sincere gratitude to the Honourable Prime Minister for his presence here today and for his unwavering support. The attendance of the Prime Minister and numerous members of his cabinet is a clear demonstration of the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho’s commitment to the success of the Compact. It is wonderful to witness Lesotho once again passing the scorecard,” she said.

She mentioned that Lesotho’s progress in fiscal year 2024, with an increase from 14 to 15 out of 20 indicators, is highly commendable.

“This improvement reflects the country’s dedication to enhancing democratic governance and economic freedom,” she said, adding that the government’s enactment of three laws in December 2022, including the Counter Domestic Violence Act and the Harmonisation Act, has significantly strengthened the protection and legal status of women. Furthermore, the establishment of the Millennium Challenge Account-Lesotho and the appointment of ’M’e. ‘Mannana Phalatse as the MCA-Lesotho II CEO demonstrate the government’s commitment to the compact.

However, Brewer commended the accomplishments, saying it is vital to note that the success of the Health and Horticulture Compact hinges on the government’s continuous commitment and actions.

To achieve entry into force of the compact by March 30, 2024, Lesotho must urgently accelerate the enactment of the Labour Bill of 2022, occupational health and safety regulations, and additional inheritance reforms. Prioritising the enactment of these laws will strengthen Lesotho’s legal framework and is vital, as the Compact cannot enter into force until they are enacted.

Brewer said she has confidence in the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho’s ability to meet the conditions precedent to ensure the timely entry into force of the $300 million Compact, which will ensure greater access to quality healthcare, create equitable business development opportunities, invest in high-value crop production, and boost profits and formal employment for women- and youth-owned enterprises.

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