SHANGHAI, CHINA – His Majesty King Letsie III went on a charm offensive in Shanghai on Monday as he tried to woo international businessmen to invest in Lesotho, describing the country as a stable democracy in Africa.
King Letsie was addressing guests at the Shanghai World Expo 2010 to mark Lesotho’s 44th independence celebrations, the first to be held on foreign soil.
The World Expo is a gathering of about 200 countries to promote business and showcase the latest technological innovations.
The expo, which began in May and will run until October 31, is being held under the theme, “Better City, Better life”.
King Letsie said Lesotho had made huge strides in development since independence from Britain on October 4, 1966.
“Today, Lesotho is one of the most stable, peaceful and vibrant democracies on the African continent,” King Letsie said.
He said Lesotho had sound economic policies and a favourable business and investment climate that had put the country on a firm path for economic development.
“The country has transformed from a subsistence farming-based economy and exporter of labour to a country with a growing and promising manufacturing industry,” the king said.
He also paid tribute to the role that the government of China had played in Lesotho’s development adding that Beijing had financed the construction of several new government buildings in Maseru.
King Letsie said the Chinese government had assisted Lesotho in improving its infrastructure, boosting health-care and improving military co-operation between the two countries.
King Letsie said there were massive investment opportunities in sectors such as tourism, mining and agriculture.
“The event (of this nature) also provides us with a rare opportunity to share information and ideas with others and to learn from the best practices of China and other countries which have attained high economic growth,” he said.
China has been on an aggressive investment drive across Africa.
Critics have however said the Asian giant is making inroads into Africa largely to exploit the continent’s huge natural resources.
The Chinese government denies this allegation insisting it is Africa’s development partner.
Over the past three years China has registered a phenomenal average annual economic growth of eight percent.
Speaking at the same function China’s deputy minister of public safety Liu Jing said Lesotho had impressive scenery which had generated massive interest from visitors to the Lesotho Pavilion.
He said China will continue to assist Lesotho in the future.
“China values co-operation with Lesotho and we are ready to extend our support in the future and will assist in development of both countries,” Jing said.
King Letsie arrived in China on Saturday and is heading a high-level delegation of ministers and other senior government officials.
Among the ministers who are in China are Trade Minister Popane Lebesa, Foreign Affairs Minister Mohlabi Tsekoa and Tourism Minister Lebohang Nts’inyi.