PROSPECTIVE business people continue to be greeted by long queues at the company registry’s office despite the introduction of an on-line registration service meant to simplify the process.
The online registry was introduced in December 2014 to speed up the company registration process, as part of the country’s efforts to improve its investment climate with a view towards economic development.
The system is operated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry through the Onestop Business Facilitation Centre (OBFC). The centre comprises of officials from the Lesotho Revenue Authority, Ministries of Trade and Industry, Labour and Employment and Home Affairs.
Bokang Molelle, who is the former president of Junior Chamber International — Lesotho Chapter (JCI), said many Basotho do not have skills or the financial muscle to afford internet, both of which are critical to accessing the online registry.
JCI is an international organisation that encourages young people to participate in social and economic development and international co-operation.
“The problems of the online registry may stem from lack of computer literacy or lack of financial resources to access the internet for many of our people, who are forced to physically walk to the OBFC offices,” Mr Molelle told the Lesotho Times.
He said the absence of either of the two factors renders the online service unusable.
Mr Molelle further said there is need for user friendly service at the OBFO centre so that patrons may understand exactly what they need to do in order to successfully register companies.
“When people walk into the centre, they are sometimes sent back to go and use the online presumably due to the long queues. They are referred back to the facility which they clearly have challenges in using given their poor computer literacy and or their financial status.”
He said some desperate people resort to seeking the assistance of business consultants to help them register on-line and end up incurring more costs.
For his part, OBFC director Monaheng Vincent Monaheng said he believes that people still have reservations about using the online system as it was still fairly new. He however, said there was need for a mindset shift.
“Maybe we did not do enough public awareness campaigns before introducing the system but at the moment we are doing exactly that through different platforms,” Mr Monaheng said.
He said the online system has played a significant role in reducing the number of walk-in patrons at their offices. The OBFC has offices in Maseru and Maputsoe.
“The system plays an important role since it has significantly reduced the number of walk-in clients at our office.
“However, we thought walk-in clients were going to be reduced more than this but that has not happened as we anticipated. We believe however, that with time people will gradually warm up to the idea and walk ins will eventually go further down,” Mr Monaheng said.
Registering a company manually takes about five days while using the online platform reduces the time by two days. The on-line system can be accessed by logging into www.obfc.org.ls.
The system is financially supported under the World Bank’s Private Sector Competitiveness and Economic Diversification Project.
The software used for the online system was supplied by New Zealand company Foster Moore International Limited.