Harvard economist seeks to revive Lesotho’s economy

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Harvard economist seeks to revive Lesotho’s economy
Harvard economist seeks to revive Lesotho’s economy

Africa-Press – Lesotho. A renowned Harvard economist arrives in Maseru today for an initial two-day assessment of how his team can help the new government revive the ailing economy.

Dr Ricardo Hausmann, who is the founder and Director of Harvard’s Growth Lab, will be accompanied by Professor Rafik Hariri of the Harvard Kennedy School and his colleague, Kishan Shah.

During the two-day visit, Hausmann’s team will meet Prime Minister Sam Matekane who is desperate to quickly turn around the country’s economic fortunes. He will meet the Cabinet for a presentation on his Economic Complexity Index which is used to predict and explain future economic growth.

The index assesses the industrial structure of an economy with a focus on prescribing a growth path into prosperity through high-value-added industrialisation.

There will also be meetings with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Central Bank governor. Also lined up are meetings with businesses, textiles, banking and mining representatives.

The visit is likely to be a precursor to a collaboration meant to help the Matekane-led government craft sustainable and inclusive economic growth strategies.

“Since this is my first trip to Lesotho, I look forward to discussing the government’s challenges, goals and plans.

I might explain how we think about growth, my first impressions or questions about Lesotho and how we typically work in other countries,” said Hausmann.

Founded in 2006, Harvard’s Growth Lab is regarded as one of the top influential hubs on international development. As the lab’s director, Hausmann has served as the principal investigator for more than 50 research initiatives in nearly 30 countries.

Most of the research has informed development policy, growth strategies and diversification agendas at national and sub-national levels. Before joining Harvard University, Hausmann served as Venezuela’s Minister of Planning and board member of that country’s central bank in the early nineties.

He was also the chief economist of the Inter-American Development Bank and served as chairman of the IMF-World Bank Development committee. Hausmann’s visit comes when the economy is in dire straits with growth having ground to a halt and the textile industry haemorraging jobs.

The government coffers are empty due to a slump in domestic and regional revenue receipts. The economy, which according to the IMF, shrunk by 10 percent in the last year, is yet to recover from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As part of his 100-day plan, Matekane prioritised supporting the post-pandemic economic recovery, fiscal consolidation and structural reforms to restore external balances, maintain debt sustainability and stimulate inclusive growth.

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