Lesotho: System Failure At Trade Paralyses Business

3 December 2019

SEVERAL business people are stranded after the Ministry of Trade and Industry's online company registry system went offline last week.

The online registry system, which is implemented by the One-Stop Business Facilitation Centre (OBFC) under the Trade and Industry ministry, has been offline since 19 November 2019.

This has left many business people stranded as they cannot register new companies nor get traders' licences to operate.

The online system was introduced in December 2014 to speed up the company registration process, as part of the country's efforts to improve its business climate to attract investment for economic development.

The digital system was introduced through the support of a New Zealand information technology company, Foster Moore International Limited. The company supplied Lesotho with a software system called Catalyst which the government pays for annually.

Also involved in the collaborative project was the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Private Sector Foundation chief executive officer Thabo Qhesi, said the glitch had severely inconvenienced the business sector.

"This inconvenience may lead to the slowdown of new company entrants into the market, thereby delaying employment creation at least until the system is up and running again," Mr Qhesi said.

He said government stands to lose substantial revenue that could have been collected through company registrations. Company registration fees are pegged at M530 per registration.

For her part, Ministry of Trade and Industry spokesperson, Lihaelo Nkaota said they were doing everything in their power to ensure that the system is back online.

"We are working hard to restore the on-line company registry system. We understand the cost implications this disruption may have on the business sector that is why we are doing everything in our power to speedily address the problem," Ms Nkaota said.

With the system off-line, she said ministry officials were also unable to access records in the system making it impossible to revert to the manual system.

Asked if the ministry was up to date with its payments to the New Zealand service provider, Ms Nkaota said they were awaiting an invoice from Foster Moore.

Since its introduction, the system has experienced multiple glitches and the business community has often found it difficult to use it.

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