The Science and Technology Act

The Science and Technology Act was enacted on 24 December 2021. This came as a breath of fresh air, seeing as the world has gone digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 2020, the globe has been in disarray, and most companies and schools have been forced to work remotely.

Lesotho adopted a Science Technology Innovation Policy in 2006-2011 (STIP) and introduced the Lesotho Academy for Science and Technology (LAST). All these call on civil society and the nation to utilise science, technology and innovation as tools to reduce poverty, create jobs and transform the country into a dynamic economy and informed society. The primary objectives of the academy (LAST) include providing linkages between academia and the industry and facilitating technological innovation and excellence in Lesotho.

The adoption of the Policy (STIP) is a step towards a greater role of Science Technology Innovation in the country’s development strategy. Action has already been taken such as setting the legal framework for the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Science and Technology, the Lesotho Advisory Commission for Science and Technology and the Lesotho Innovation Trust Fund. Which are all introduced and addressed in the Act.

Considering this, the Act establishes a Commission, Secretariat for the Commission and a Board of Trustees for the science and technology development in the country. The main object of the Act is to establish the Commission and the Innovation Trust Fund. The Trust Fund has a Board of Directors with a law, technology, and accounting background.

The Act establishes a Commission comprised of persons with Science and Technology expertise from Government ministries, parastatals, institutions of higher learning, the private sector and one from the general public. It has powers that may be exercised only if the scientific and technological activities pertain to national interest.

The main functions of the Commission, as outlined in Section 5, include;

  1. Facilitate the implementation of the Science and Technology Policy (STIP)
  2. Instilling an innovation and invention culture among citizens to foster economic and social development
  3. Create job opportunities and alleviate poverty
  4. Foster a science and technology human and physical resource base competitive with other countries
  5. Identifying sources of funding for science and technology and recommending allocation of such funds for the benefit of science and technology
  6. Facilitate the promotion of science and technology and its benefit to national development
  7. Provide advice to the Government in relation to science and technology through relevant ministries
  8. Adopt and recommend science and technology implementations and developments (this list is not exhaustive)

Section 11 establishes the sector committee, while section 13 outlines its functions. Their functions include, but are not limited to;

  1. Identifying creativity and, innovation and inventions and assisting in their further development
  2. Promote new technologies and their adaptations to users and beneficiaries
  3. Developing programmes on awareness of science and technology and its application to social development
  4. Conduct surveys to assess the availability of science and technology resources and ensure there are adequate resources.

Section 15 establishes the Science and Technology Innovation Trust Fund, and Section 16 outlines the

The Fund shall be administered by the Board of Trustees, which is established under section 17 and shall hold office for a period of three (3) years. Their other functions include providing audited financial records of the Trust Fund to the Commission and supporting fundraising.

The main purpose of the Act, as outlined in the statement of objects and reasons, is to establish the Fund and ensure that Science and Technology progress in Lesotho.