Lesotho must prioritise research and development if it is to improve its socio-economic affairs, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has said.
Dr Majoro said this during the launch of the Lesotho Academy of Science and Technology (LAST) in Maseru this week. He said research has a critical role for evidence-based policy making and cannot be overemphasized as evidenced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
LAST is an independent platform for contact and knowledge transfer among the private sector, public sector, civil society, academics, and government in the fields of science, technology, and innovation. It is supported by the United Nations Technology Bank (UNTB).
The major objectives of the academy include providing linkages between academia and the industry and facilitating technological innovation and excellence in Lesotho.
Dr Majoro said LAST can act as a think tank to support government, civil society, private sector and the public on matters of national interest.
“Lesotho must prioritise and invest heavily on research and development to improve the socio-economic aspect,” Dr Majoro said.
“It is therefore, our hope is that LAST will play a pivotal role in science advocacy that will enable Lesotho to invest in the right places. With its membership largely being experts in science, it is our hope that LAST will assist the country to connect with other resources that will further capacitate the science, technology and innovation sector in Lesotho and put it into practice.”
Dr Majoro also pledged government’s financial support for the academy to ensure its success.
“We will also approach and commission them to carry out studies that give sciences advice to the government. We will link them with other government ministries and departments that are beneficiaries of science.”
Keketso Sello, the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology said the LAST launch comes at a time when Lesotho and the rest of the world were seeking answers from science and technology in the fight against Covid-19.
While Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) met in 2017 in eSwatini and agreed to launch science academies in their respective countries, Lesotho has been struggling to start formulating its own because of lack of resources.
Therefore, the LAST launch was a welcome development.
For his part, Joshua Setipa, the managing director of the UNTB for Least Developed Countries, who was present at the launch also pledged support for the initiative.
“The key objective of the technology bank under this programme is to support Lesotho’s national technological efforts and support the reinforcement of partnerships across sectors and help Lesotho identify, access, adapt and deploy appropriate technologies to transform its economy and improve the livelihoods of Basotho,” Mr Setipa said.
Professor Norbert Hounkonnou, the president of the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), said the academy will promote Basotho science careers.
“Through LAST, NASAC hopes to build confidence in the lives and inspirations of the eminent scientists, who have taken the path least followed, to pursue youth towards careers in science,” Prof Hounkonnou said.