It is very important because it makes all the Southern African countries that have nation branding projects into one package. Because of this area, one does not have to visit one country; they can visit many other countries and enjoy the rich heritage that is there. It’s also important because it ensures that future generations will be able to enjoy these areas, and many of these areas are trampling areas, which are protected. It also helps the local economy by providing jobs as a result of the tourism.
Q2. The World Cup recently concluded in South Africa. How well do you think South Africa did in terms of selling itself as a nation, and was Lesotho able to take advantage of this event as well in terms of tourism and investment?
The 2010 World Cup was a huge success despite skepticism that it was going to be a failed event. It also helped South Africa to brand itself. South Africa is seen as a country with lots of crime. During the World Cup, however, there was very little, despite the fact that the Western world thought there would be a lot. In terms of the benefits that were accrued for South Africa, they were enormous because the event created thousands of new jobs. Now that the World Cup is over and people have come to South Africa, they will come again and we will see the benefits in the next five years. For a country like Lesotho, who is very close to the Cape, we also had people come and visit us during the World Cup as well. When you take a look at the number of Africans who visited South Africa during the World Cup, Lesotho had the highest number of visitors.
Q3. In terms of differentiating Lesotho, you spoke about promoting your queen and also a co-branding initiative with Monaco. What have the results been regarding these initiatives thus far?
Monaco has tremendous experience in branding itself, and we have developed a similar branding strategy for this. One of the things we have realized is the role of using celebrities in branding Lesotho. Our queen gives us a great chance to brand Lesotho’s culture and diversity. We have been having discussions with Monaco, and they have been very fruitful. We are looking to design tourism and branding strategies with them currently.
Q4. You have helped the people of Lesotho in many ways, including amongst others, the Highlands Water Project. There is, however, a lot of work left to be done. How, in your opinion, will the branding of Lesotho assist and do you think Lesotho can benefit from cultural diplomacy initiatives to the same extent as Germany could?
The project looks to transport water into South Africa and it also looks to enhance development in Lesotho through infrastructure. It is a huge project that benefits both countries.
Q5. What is your opinion of efforts by small states to gain access to the White House?
You have to rely on the institutions that lobby. The importance of the parliamentarians for us, for smaller nations and developing countries. Because they can be our voice in parliament. We need to ensure that our issues are on the agenda, and to keep us on the radar screen. Our biggest challenge is always to keep us on the radar screen. It is critical to keep our issues on the agenda. We must make sure that we are always on the radar screen.
Q6. When it comes to these sort of negotiations, do you combine efforts with neighbouring states?
Yes we do, we know that climate change for instance is a big issue now. It is to do with developing countries that need to adapt to … Lesotho is currently the chair of the least developing countries negotiating for kind of change. We are talking about the least developing countries and thinking in terms of climate change .For the least developing countries we are sure that we have put our case forward to make sure that the least developing countries are supported. We are hoping for a certain outcome in Cancun in November.
Interview conducted by James Hood