Please allow me to begin today by first paying my respects to:
His Majesty King Letsie III
The Right Honorable the Prime Minister
The President of the Senate
The Speaker of the National Assembly
Her Ladyship the Acting Chief Justice
Honorable Members of his Majesty’s Cabinet, notably, the
Honorable Minister of Energy
Senior Government Officials
Members of the Press
Bo-‘M’e le Bo-Ntate,
I am pleased to welcome all of you here today as we formalize partnerships that advance Lesotho’s energy sector development and support ongoing commercial cooperation between the United States and Lesotho. We are here to talk about power and energy – specifically the kind produced by electricity. But I think this is also a day to celebrate the power and energy that comes from bringing dedicated Basotho and Americans together for bold endeavors.
Today I will sign a grant worth more than 8.6 million maloti (600,000 USD) on behalf of the United States, through the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA). USTDA supports the development of well-planned, sustainable infrastructure projects in areas that host countries deem priorities. The OnePower project and this partnership represent just that – support for an important solar generation project that was competitively and openly tendered here in Lesotho.
Electricity is both the lifeblood of economic development and an essential element for improving quality of life. Studies show that the costs of producing electricity are far less than the economic costs of not having it. In Lesotho and across Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a need to generate new power, to improve access to existing power, and to diversify the energy generation mix. The United States, through Power Africa, has been working with government and private sector stakeholders to assist in these objectives. I am pleased to be joined by our colleagues from Power Africa in Pretoria who came to Lesotho today for this announcement.
To succeed, Power Africa depends on strategic relationships, including the strong partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Meteorology, Ministry of Finance, Lesotho Electricity Company, Lesotho National Development Corporation, among many others.
What an incredible testament to our enduring ties that Matt Orosz, a Peace Corps volunteer who served in Phamong, in Mohale’s Hoek, almost 20 years ago has now returned to Lesotho to serve in another way – by building part of the country’s renewable energy infrastructure.
It was in Phamong where Matt was struck by the lack of electricity in his village and decided he would do something about it one day. Now he and Chaim Motzen are co-developers at OnePower, a company based in Lesotho, where American and Basotho engineers work together side-by-side. I think it’s important to note that these Basotho engineers were educated in Lesotho and now work to support their country’s renewable energy goals.
I personally have learned a good deal about the vast potential of renewable energy in Lesotho. My colleagues and I enthusiastically support increasing electricity access across this country to make Lesotho energy independent one day.
But why make that the end goal? It is fully within Lesotho’s capacity to become a net exporter of energy in the future. Its competitive advantage can be used not only to enhance the quality of life of Basotho people but also to make solar power Lesotho’s most economically important natural resource after water. The United States, through the Embassy and Power Africa, is committed to assisting Lesotho in any way possible to unlock its energy potential.
We all believe that the United States and Lesotho have much to gain from strengthening commercial ties. USTDA, Power Africa, and the U.S. Embassy are proud to support partnerships and projects that will do just that. We look forward to continuing to foster relationships between the United States and Lesotho that can unite our power and energy to build new opportunities for mutual benefit.
Again, thank you all for coming today. I look forward to seeing progress on this important solar project and the further development of Lesotho’s energy sector.
On behalf of USTDA, I will now officially sign the grant to OnePower.
Kea Leboha. Khotso, Pula, Nala.