LESOTHO has great expectations from this week’s Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Investment Roundtable with the country showcasing projects such as deciduous fruit production and processing; footwear manufacturing; herbs, spices and aromatic products; knit/woven fabric mill and medicinal cannabis.
April 19, 2022
3 min read
SACU Investment Roundtable great expectations
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With a total population of about 68.3 million, the SACU region offers enormous opportunity for Lesotho with investments in key strategic sectors and enhanced regional industrial synergies through the development of cross-border value chains.
Lesotho’s membership within the SACU also offers it the region’s geographic location that makes it a perfect gateway to the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The combined markets size of 360.3 million offers a large export market, not only into the SACU region but also into the broader SADC market for the products produced within the Customs Union.
Deciduous fruit production and processing project is suitable due to Lesotho’s favourable location, climatic conditions with most suitable elevation, rainfall and soil as the country is an ideal place in which to invest in growing deciduous fruits for export to southern Africa and more distant markets.
With an estimated 5 500 acres suitable for growing deciduous fruits in Lesotho, pilot farms – owned by the community – have yielded greatly and proven that harvests are two to three weeks earlier than neighbouring countries.
In a country hard hit by the unemployment rate, job creation should be the ultimate goal with the plan to expand by 120 hectares every year to reach 500 hectares and include machinery, processing and cold chain management as a joint venture with communities and a technical partner.
Project investment valued at US$ 8.6 million (M129 million) for each 120 hectares until 500 hectares, machinery, processing and cold chain estimate at US$ 36 million (M540 million), will go a long way in plugging the holes of lack of investment.
Political will should cement partnerships and commitment as indicated by investing in the expansion and opening of more projects.
Endowed with an exceptional natural beauty and gifted with the highest altitude, Lesotho is best positioned to gain and profit from processed cannabis for medicinal purposes.
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Lesotho is an ideal location for further investments in knitted/woven fabric mills for integration with textiles producers and export markets, where woven fabric mill already exists and utilises 100 percent African sourced cotton.
A healthy lifestyle can only mean demand for local herbs, spices and aromatic products. This project is expected to boost primary production by local farmers through the establishment of processing facilities in Lesotho, a country hailed for its mountainous terrain and favourable climate for cultivation.
There is considerable potential to grow high quality organic varieties benefiting from the clean air, unpolluted water and elevated land that permit improved disease-resistance.
The first ever Investment Roundtable for the SACU region, comprising Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia and South Africa is held under the theme, “Positioning SACU as an industrial, investment, manufacturing and innovation hub for the African continent and beyond”.
With this in mind, we wish Basotho and the rest of the people in the region will immensely benefit from this gathering.