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Lesotho needs to encourage investors

A ground-breaking initiative that could go a long way to alleviate the suffering of many Basotho has failed to take off in Mafeteng, apparently due to red tape and alleged sabotage by certain interested parties.
Green Rhino Energy Holdings wants to establish an energy plant in Thabana-Morena, Mafeteng district, but excessive regulation has stalled this ambitious project which, on paper, looks too good to be true.
While every sector of the economy needs to be regulated to ensure conformity with the relevant laws, it is also equally important the regulations are investor-friendly to attract and encourage as many businesses as possible.
Lesotho has since been commended by many international bodies, among them the World Bank, for making it easy to open businesses in the country, pointing to the establishment of facilities such as the One Stop Business Facilitation Centre.
Launched in September 2007, the Centre, which is under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing, offers trading, manufacturing, import and export licences, as well as work permits, under one roof.
The streamlining of operations has made establishing a business in Lesotho much simpler, less-costly and time-effective, which is said to have added to the attraction of the country as an investment destination.
The Green Rhino Energy Holdings initiative would create thousands of direct jobs — according to the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer — while also opening countless opportunities for other industries, both formal and informal.
But as reported elsewhere in this issue, not only has the planned energy plant failed to take off as expected, the Green Rhino Energy Holdings is now under fire from local villagers who had been promised to benefit from the initiative.
Of-course, there is nothing wrong with the authorities demanding documentation that endorses the establishment of any business venture in the country — the way the local council would want Green Rhino Energy Holdings to produce certificates that qualify the organisation to run such a sensitive business.
But what then becomes disconcerting are suggestions that there could be more to the stalling of the project than meets the eye.
The Makoabating Community Council, which has apparently put the spanners in the works, thereby grounding the project, was not in a position to give its side of the story when contacted by our reporter, pointing out that the issue was being dealt with by its lawyers.
But we would not want to believe allegations that the decision to “frustrate” the project, as put by the Green Rhino Energy Holdings management, is anything but genuine concern for the laws of Lesotho to be followed to the letter.
If Lesotho is renowned for its investor-friendly laws, we would expect the regulations to also benefit Basotho and not just investors from abroad.
This country needs every investment it can attract, and widen its employment base so that the country does not continue to rely on the textile sector to provide jobs for our people.

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