The Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro launched the Lesotho Academy of Science and Technology (LAST) earlier this week to address the socio-economic challenges as well as boosting the development sector in the country.
Lesotho becomes the 28th country out of the 54 African states to embark on the technology sphere, joining the Southern African Developing Community (SADC) member states which had already ventured in the initiative.
According to Majoro, the concept of creating a science and technology academy was contemplated back in 2007 but was put on ice due to the immense financial rough patch despite the fact that the idea was already approved by SADC Ministers responsible for science and technology including the Ministers in Eswatini.
As the endeavour finally reached finality, the Academy invited the relevant technical entities to aid in the operation of the Lesotho’s only science and technology academy.
Newsday learned that the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF), NASAC and UNTBLC were invited to support the process of establishing LAST.
He further outlined the importance of the initiative as evidence-based policy making during the pandemics and beyond indicating that the launch of the academy came at a time when Lesotho and other countries around the world have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is evidence to the fact that science should play a critical role for evidence-based policy making during pandemics and beyond. Therefore, the role of science in society cannot be overemphasised” Majoro said.
“As government, we pledge to support this academy in its call for self-sufficiency, how it elects its members and how it is led. My wish and plea supported by the policy is that all the activities of LAST will be implemented based on merits.
Majoro stressed that in order to improve the socio-economic aspect, Lesotho needs to prioritise and invest heavily on research and development.
“As government, we have made our commitments, but this may be affected by other conflicting needs in the country where the focus goes to, therefore it is our hope that LAST will play a pivotal role in science advocacy and that it will enable Lesotho to invest in the right places. It is expected that LAST will help the country to connect with other resources that will further capacitate science, technology and innovation sector in Lesotho and put it into practice,” he said.
He passed his remarks to the founding members, citing that the government had tried to establish entities like LAST in the past but to no avail.
“You must be proud of yourselves and Lesotho at large because you have contributed a lot in making Basotho proud,” Sello said.
Sello explained that he has experienced similar projects submerging due the poor service delivery, thus becoming a hindrance to progression.
He stated that they are going to link LAST with other government ministries and departments which are beneficiaries of science.
“We pledge to financially support LAST to ensure that it carries out its activities. We will also approach them and commission them to carry out studies that give science advises to the government,” he said.
The Managing Director for United Nations Technology Bank (UNTB), Joshua Setipe congratulated Lesotho on its venture, and pledged that UNTB will support the academy, stating that the academy should work intensively on building Lesotho socio-economically.
“To the Lesotho Prime Minister, I hope you take LAST under your wing and nurture it as his patron,” he said.
On the same story, the Lesotho National Director of Science and Technology Lefa Thamae indicated that the academy will use qualified Basotho scientists that are both in and out of the country. He said LAST will continue to operate under the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology premises.