Currently at around 14.7 percent of the GDP, Lesotho remains one of the top countries which are dependent on this source of foreign earning.
Although Lesotho’s diaspora has enormously contributed significantly to the country’s wellbeing, the full potential of the diaspora has not been exploited due to inaccurate database of citizens abroad, lack of coordination, inadequate institutional capacity and clear engagement policy between government and the diaspora community.
This was revealed by Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro recently, during the launch of the national diaspora policy.
This policy is a first step in addressing these obstacles.
The vision of the National Diaspora Policy is to ensure that the diaspora is viewed as an integral part to the development of the country by enhancing the effectiveness of its contribution to the development of the country.
This means that the diaspora should feel recognised by the government.
The policy further seeks to empower both the successful and vulnerable members of the diaspora and provide a directorate that can facilitate a committed engagement of the diaspora to the development of the country through their knowledge, capital and skills.
Central to this, according to the premier will be to ensure accountability of the government to deliver the mission.
“In recent years, the role of the diaspora has transcended merely sending remittances, to investing in businesses and philanthropic development projects and sharing of specialised skills and tourism promotion.
“Among these contributions, with reference to Lesotho, remittances have been pivotal and played a cardinal role in building our economy, at one-point accounting for 25.8 percent of the GDP, thus putting Lesotho on the top 10 remittances recipient countries in the world, according to the World Bank data.
“From 44 percent of GDP in 2006 to an estimated 21.2 percent of GDP in 2018, remittances have had a significant impact on Lesotho’s economy,” Dr Majoro also noted.
Again the policy envisages the up scaling of the diaspora outreach forums, the hosting of the inaugural Diaspora Civic Forum in Lesotho and the creation of the inaugural Lesotho Diaspora Research prize.
The Diaspora Civic Forum will be a showcase event to be held annually where stakeholders can shape direct consultations with the diaspora in line with their interest areas such as tourism, social development and investment among others.
It further encourages the creation of a Basotho Diaspora Association, the creation of the Lesotho Diaspora Support Programme and the Lesotho Leads Network as outlined in the LNDC strategy for investment purposes.
In order to achieve the envisaged goals of this policy, government will establish an institutional framework known as Diaspora Directorate under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations to serve as the coordination mechanism, as well as setting the pace and the character on how government should interact and engage with the diaspora.