EU pledges M2b for Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - News - Retha­bile Pitso

THE Euro­pean Union (EU) has pledged to invest M2 bil­lion into Le­sotho be­tween 2014 and 2020 to en­sure there is po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sta­bil­ity in the coun­try.

EU Am­bas­sador, Michael Doyle, said the fund­ing which, is in line with the Euro­pean De­vel­op­ment Fund (EDF) 11 un­der the Contonou Agree­ment, seeks to strengthen the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Le­sotho and the EU.

Wa­ter, en­ergy and gov­er­nance would be fo­cal points of fund­ing for the afore­men­tioned du­ra­tion, Dr Doyle fur­ther noted.

Dr Doyle, who made the an­nounce­ment dur­ing a break­fast meet­ing with the me­dia in Maseru yes­ter­day, also spoke about Le­sotho’s cur­rent po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity chal­lenges which have since be­come the sub­ject of in­ter­ven­tion by the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (SADC) and other stake­hold­ers such as the Christian Coun­cil of Le­sotho.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Doyle, who was de­ployed to Le­sotho two months ago, po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue is “an in­te­gral part” of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the EU and Le­sotho.

The am­bas­sador noted although there could be “chal­lenges” brought about by the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, which has paral­ysed the coali­tion gov­ern­ment led by Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane, the EU re­mained pos­i­tive that fa­cil­i­tated po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue would pave way for bet­ter pol­icy de­vel­op­ments. Dr Tha­bane and his coali­tion gov­ern­ment part­ners — Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Mo­th­etjoa Mets­ing and Sports Min­is­ter Th­e­sele ‘Maserib­ane — fell out early this year, prompt­ing snap elec­tions in Fe­bru­ary 2015.

“We are tak­ing into ac­count the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try and ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent re­forms in terms of se­cu­rity is­sues that have brought ten­sion, the SADC fa­cil­i­ta­tion and up­com­ing elec­tions (in Fe­bru­ary 2015) as a way to turn the page and move on to as­sist pol­icy de­vel­op­ment.”

He fur­ther high­lighted the mu­tual ef­forts of the EU’S big­gest trad­ing part­ner, SADC Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment (EPA), to of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for trade be­tween the two en­ti­ties at min­i­mal costs.

“The EPA has been de­signed to give an asym­met­ric ac­cess to part­ners in the SADC re­gion, there­fore Botswana, Le­sotho, Mozam­bique, Namibia and Swazi­land do not need to re­cip­ro­cate the EU of­fer of 100 per­cent; the EU ac­cepts less,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to the am­bas­sador, the fund is not the only source avail­able to pro­pel the agree­ment for­ward, adding there are other Euro­pean in­vest­ment banks will­ing to support fea­si­ble projects in the coun­try, in­clu­sive of the pri­vate sec­tor.

“There are about nine po­ten­tial projects on en­ergy and gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric­ity in par­tic­u­lar. We hope to in­volve the pri­vate sec­tor in wa­ter-co­or­di­na­tion meet­ings and also setup a sim­i­lar fo­rum for en­ergy. There is need how­ever, for all sec­tors to ed­u­cate them­selves on ways to di­ver­sify their prod­ucts, and study in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, among other ways to im­prove their po­ten­tial to be at­trac­tive glob­ally,” he said.

Mean­while, Dr Doyle ex­pressed op­ti­mism about next week’s po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue be­tween gov­ern­ment and the EU, which he said was “another step to strengthen the part­ner­ship be­tween Le­sotho and the Euro­pean Union”.

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