The National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) is a national strategic direction plan meant to transform Lesotho’s ailing economy and ensure job creation among the nation, various NSDP documentations from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning have shown.
While previous encounters have shown that development plans come as far as in the 1970s, this plan is reported to have been born out of the country’s vision 2020, through the blueprint documents, the country would examine its efforts and steps aimed at accelerating economic growth.
Lesotho’s economy is said to have experienced a downward trajectory since NSDP I resuscitation 2011/12- 2016/17, from 5.3 percent per annum to 2.9 percent. Lack of a clear implementation plan, poor coordination, and limited dialogue between relevant parties are attributed as major challenges according to the World Bank economic stance.
Therefore, some economic experts are of the opinion that the well-articulated NSDP agendas are likely to come out in vain come the end of NSDP II review 2027/2028, anchored from 2018/2019 to 2022/2023 NSDP II.
Prior to NSDP I and of course with regard to the second document, the King had released a foreword, pointing that Basotho’s resilience and survival or level of economic progress the country makes, depend on the corresponding will and effort all put to make this historic and memorable.
For instance, the NSDP I called all to collectively commit to responding and dedicating their will in accomplishing this document, alleviate poverty and hunger. “In my capacity as the Head of State, as African Union Champion for Nutrition, Food and Agriculture as well as Special Ambassador on nutrition and Human Capital Champion of the World Bank, I have interest in seeing Lesotho make significant strides in relation to reducing poverty and hunger in all means possible.”
The then Prime Minister, Dr. Motsoahae Thabane and Minister of Planning then, Mr. Tlohelang Aumane came out in a variety of platforms stating a few reasons that led to the country failing towards attainment of the said goals.
Some of these were attributed to financial constraints, lack of political will from relevant authorities that saw the country enduring political instabilities and occurrences. However, below are some of the challenges and successes underlined in these previous documents: household income increased by 2.8 percent on average per year. This led to a reduction in poverty from 57.1percent to 49.8 percent. The poverty gap similarly declined from 30 percent to 22.1 percent between 2010/11 and 2016/17.
Again, inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, although remains high at 0.45 in 2016/17, declined from 0.53 observed in 2010/11. However, poverty in rural areas remains virtually unchanged. Significant growth and jobs are still needed to address poverty. The improvement in poverty levels and inequality are a result of significant Investments in the social sectors that the government, with support of development partners, has made and is continuing to make. Better targeted interventions will have greater impacts on reducing poverty, NSDP I document has shown.
Over and above that, public sector employment rose from 43,282 to 43,386 and employment in the private sector only increased from 45,877 to 47,795. Despite economic growth and macro stability achieved in the first three years of NSDP I, overall unemployment may have risen to a high (25 percent) with unemployment of youth over 36 percent.
Projects implemented under the public sector were driven by social considerations. Private sector investment declined from 3,649 million in 2012/13 to 2,992 million in 2016/17, potentially resulting in fewer jobs created. However, The Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Thabo Mofosi is adamant that the current government working with the private sector will work harder, that all these failures shall become a thing of the past.
He talks about the launch of winter cropping whereby 55 tractors that would help farmers undergo the process will be used and that it is anticipated that at least 1564 hectares at Ha Manama will be ploughed. He said with more than 70 percent of Basotho depending on agriculture for survival, the country has potential of realising its goals.
In the same note, the Deputy Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Planning, Mrs. Teboho Mokela said despite the Covid-19, a macro factor that saw the country having to extend implementation, agriculture presents a number of opportunities.
She is convinced that they commenced the review extension with implementation consultative meetings, where now convergence of agriculture, technology, manufacturing and tourism are attached as priority areas.
She urged farmers to aim for organic farming as it creates a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable food production system as it is based on managing the agro ecosystem rather than relying on external farming inputs that include artificial fertilizers and genetically modified organisms. This, she noted, will curb climate change.
Mrs. Mokela challenged all, particularly stakeholders in as far as the priority areas are concerned to interlink their ministries programmes and projects into that of the review extension document so as to realise better outcomes.
Meanwhile, as part of realising NSDP II review, government ministries have held strategic meetings sessions. For Instance, the Ministry of Information, Communications, Science, Technology and Innovation has affirmed that if all is to go well in as far as technology is concerned, all departmental activities ought to align with the national plan.
“In as far as technology as a priority is concerned, the ministry has a bigger role to play hence the need for us to prepare, formulate and implement technology strategic plan for the next five years in liaison with the national document.” ICT Director General, Mr. Thapeli Tjabane echoed.
In another story, one of the youth who is also a farmer, thus striving to promoting priority area in line with agriculture, Lipolelo Moremi of Masowe I said it is through initiatives such as these ones that government can be supported in accomplishing the extension document. Therefore, incorporating ideas from all sectors including able and disabled entities will go a long in realising goals and objectives of the country.
In conclusion, it remains clear that transformation of Lesotho’s economy is a matter of concern if the review extension in line with NSDP II is to be realised.