MASERU – Founder and head of Matekane Group of Companies (MGC), Sam Matekane, has called for concerted effort and unity in the country’s business sector and the larger African continent if the fight against the rampant Covid-19 pandemic is to be won.
Matekane says the pandemic presents an opportunity for the continent to harness the capacity of African scientists, corporates, governments and development partners to engage in the manufacturing of a Covid-19 vaccine while enhancing testing and care for infected patients.
This, he said in a press briefing on the announcement of his recognition by the Foreign Investment Network (FIN) in partnership with Forbes as the best Africa Leading Entrepreneur of the year.
The recognition is given to African entrepreneurs who have performed excellently throughout the years. Matekane said out of the 54 African countries, only five are engaged in vaccine manufacturing so he calls for introspection by the region to know the constraints it has to manufacture the vaccine and start addressing the gap.
He noted that it is time Africa stands on its own feet to address its own development challenges hence he appealed to all relevant role players locally and in the region to find ways of expanding the capacity of vaccine manufacturing in Africa. “As the business sector, our role is to set up the required manufacturing infrastructure and get the necessary steps to roll out. My dream is to see my country as self-sufficient and Africa as united and able to address its own challenges without heavy reliance on the international countries.
“There are many other opportunities to be explored by the business sector in Lesotho and in Africa as a whole. With the natural resources that we have in Africa, we should be able to move from being mere consumers to being manufacturers,” Matekane said.
He further pointed out that Lesotho is one of the African countries with the best diamonds but it still does not have businesses that process the diamonds. Matekane said it is his dream to see Lesotho setting up diamond auctions and opening more businesses for diamond jewellery and polishing in the country. He said the business sector should be united to start thinking about how Lesotho can be a self-sufficient country with enough industries that create much needed jobs.
Matekane said the 35 years he has been in business has taught him that nothing is impossible. He said if other countries can do it, then Lesotho can definitely achieve whatever it wants, adding that all it takes is passion and dedication and refocusing the country’s priorities. He also revealed that he has witnessed different platforms where Basotho are producing locally. Matekane emphasised the need for the business sector to help the upcoming businesses upscale and start believing in locally made products.
“We trust other nations’ products more than our own. We must find a way to enhance the quality of our products so that they can compete fairly with the international products. Support local, produce quality and grow your own brands and the economy will follow suit. “It is time we build the Lesotho that we want, a country that we will all be proud of. The business sector has a big role to play to uplift the economy of Lesotho and eradicate poverty,” he noted.
He further pointed out that MGC is in talks with National University of Lesotho’s group of scientists which are in the process of producing a Covid-19 vaccine and will help them in ways possible to ensure that the project succeeds. He said MGC will acquaint the group of scientists with companies that are already producing the vaccine for collaboration.
He also revealed that in a month’s time, MGC will launch the ‘Sir Matekane Foundation’, meant to empower upcoming local businesses and Basotho at large.