Trade Ministry launches e-licensing, e-regulations

Trade Ministry launches e-licensing, e-regulations

MASERU- TRADERS will no longer have to close their businesses and take long journeys to town to renew their licences.
This comes after the Ministry of Trade yesterday launched e-Licencing and e-Regulations through the Private Sector Competitiveness Economic Diversification Project (PSCEDP) which is funded by the World Bank.

These platforms are meant to enhance investor experience, minimise costs and time associated with accessing information to start a business or renew a trader’s licence.
The convenience and ease of access to the facilities is also meant to improve Lesotho’s rankings on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.
According to Chaba Mokuku, Project Manager of the PSCEDP, enhancing the business climate and eradicating obstacles making it difficult to invest in this country is part of their efforts to fight alarming unemployment rates and poverty.

In the quest to attract investors and diversify the economy the PSCEDP assisted the Ministry of Trade to develop a one-stop-business-facilitation-centre (OBFC) which contributed significantly towards Lesotho’s ranking on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.
“The OBFC made a huge impact since online registration. This year Lesotho on the Starting a Business indicator is sitting at number 84 compared to 119 in 2019,” Mokuku said.
“We are sitting at the top in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) region,” he said.
He added that the eLicensing and eRegulation facilities will improve services and with constant reforming ensure that Lesotho improves in other areas to make the business climate attractive for investors.

Speaking on behalf of the Lesotho Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), a local businessman Elelloang Lesei said it is encouraging to see such events as the private sector constantly fights about the ease of doing business for both domestic and foreign investors.
“This will change the narrative of the likes of a young man I met from Qacha’s Nek who had to close shop to come to Maseru and renew his business licence, losing time and incurring costs that could have been put to good use in his business,” Lesei said.

He said it is critical for the concerned stakeholders to collaborate and pair these improved systems with education so that the public can know and understand what is available.
Trade Minister Halebonoe Setšabi said e-Regulations Lesotho equips both domestic and foreign investors with information well beforehand of the requirements and steps one is expected to undertake.

“The advantage of this initiative is two-fold: for the investor, one would know all pertinent information relating to his business without necessarily visiting our offices, thereby embracing the principle of transparency – which will go a long way to curb potential corruption,” Setšabi said.
The consequence of this will further reduce underhand processes which are usually the privy, discretion and territory of the officers alone.
“The empowerment of our investors with this information sets the tone for consistent information in our services,” he said.
On the other hand, by displaying all administrative procedures step-by-step the policy makers would also have opportunity to revisit the procedures and make reforms that will be aligned with the current economic dynamics.

The e-Licensing Lesotho platform is transactional in nature and allows investors to lodge their applications for both traders and manufacturing licenses online.
This development potentially addresses challenges that were inherent in the old system of issuing licenses.
Previously the system was not secure enough and the reporting mechanism was very susceptible to fraud and manipulation.

The filing system was in tatters and without proper audit trail. It also resulted in inconsistent business activities resulting in loss of revenue and duplicate licences.
“The system will also improve significantly, the turn-around times in terms of starting a business in Lesotho which is estimated at one to three days from the current seven days,” he said.
“As further enhancements in the legal framework come into operation, a licence will be issued in a matter of a few minutes.”
Setšabi said the Ministry of Trade has a mandate to take a leading role in creating an enabling environment for trade, investment, business and industrial development for private sector-led job creation and poverty reduction.

“It is in the premise of this mandate and in the spirit of other regional and international instruments that the ministry is engaged in developing this IT infrastructure to effectively and efficiently fulfil its mandate to create an enabling business environment,” he said. He said that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the ninth goal and the African Union Agenda 2063 number 10 advocate for enhanced IT infrastructure for the betterment of people’s lives.
“The sustainability of the infrastructures of this magnitude has been a concern to the government as maintenance and support costs seem to be sky-rocketing beyond the initial installation fees,” he said. “This has become a menace to the ministries’ budgets and nearly come to a ground as service providers withhold their maintenance and support services because of non-payment by the ministries.”

He said the systems launched yesterday have been developed by the United Nations Convention On Trade and Development (UNCTAD) with fiscal support from the World Bank (PSCEDP).
Traders and investors can access e-License Lesotho and e-Regulations Lesotho at and

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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