Lesotho's Prime Minister Thomas Thabane today declared the small southern African kingdom "open for business" at an investment forum in London to raise awareness of growing economic opportunities in his country.
Around 100 delegates attended the Lesotho Investment Forum, which was convened by the Commonwealth Business Council and took place at Marlborough House, headquarters of the Commonwealth. The forum highlighted opportunities for investment in Lesotho and showcased its sectors including mining, manufacturing, agriculture, financial services, infrastructure and tourism.
Dr Thabane said: "My sincere wish is that this forum will rekindle interest for Lesotho as a destination for investment plans. We are indeed open for business. " He added that Lesotho offered investors a young labour force, flexible tax incentives, competitive wage rates and a gateway to lucrative markets in the Southern African Development Community.
"This investment forum has made us have a fresh look at ourselves, at our problems and at possible solutions, as seen by others who are our friends and who see opportunities in raising the standard of living in our country, and looking at investment opportunities which naturally will create jobs for our people which we need very badly."
Earlier, the Prime Minister met with Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma who said in his opening remarks: "This forum, in seeking to unlock and develop potential as yet untapped or underutilised, can truly work for the good of Lesotho and the Commonwealth if the ambitions, expectations and needs of all - particularly the excluded and disadvantaged - are kept in the forefront of our thinking at all times."
Lesotho is a small landlocked country entirely surrounded by South Africa and is one of the world's highest countries - the whole of Lesotho is over 1,000m in altitude. Through the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the country exports water to its neighbour. It enjoys one of the highest literacy rates in Africa - 92% of people aged 15-24 are literate (2010).
Its economic growth exceeded an average of 5% between 2010-2013 - the country has a growing diamond industry, textiles industry, electronics' factories and one of only two ski resorts in Sub-Sahara Africa.
In March this year Lesotho participated in the Commonwealth's Third Global Biennial Conference on Small States. During the conference progress was made on a number of practical areas for the sustainable economic growth of small states, including a framework for building the resilience of small states.