DELIBERATIONS on factors inhibiting greater participation of local service providers in the mining sector will take centre stage during a two-day forum to improve the sector’s contribution to the country’s economic growth.
The sector is estimated to contribute 10 percent to Lesotho’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provides employment for about 3000 people.
The forum, which is termed Mining Khotla, set for 28-29 November at the exquisite Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village conference halls, will also identify key business opportunities within the mining sector that local private sector can specifically target.
The forum which is organised by the Ministry of Mining in collaboration with the Lesotho Chamber of Mines, will create a platform for the business community to engage directly with the mining sector to unlock the business opportunities in the mining sector.
An earlier mining dialogue which took place in August this year indicated how most South African companies are preferred over local companies for goods and services that are available locally.
The mining companies on the other hand pointed out that some local suppliers often lacked the capacity to provide goods and services of the stipulated quality.
Mining Minister Keketso Sello recently told the media that with more local business participation in the provision of goods and services to the mining sector, more jobs can be created which in turn would have positive impact to the country’s economy.
He further said there were laws that support the preferential treatment of local goods and services and that it is important for these laws to be enforced to increase the participation of local suppliers in the sector.
“The Minerals and Mining Policy calls for domestic empowerment and integration of the mining sector into the national economy through expansion of linkages – to foster the development of a mining sector that is integrated with other sectors of the national economy in order to contribute to the economic empowerment of the Basotho by generating opportunities for local businesses.
“Therefore, as the regulating body, the government through the Ministry of Mining found it befitting to level the ground by opening a dialogue for the business community as a means of expanding the said business linkages.
“This means that the Mining Khotla is another strategy through which the ministry in close collaboration with the Lesotho Chamber of Mines (LCM) is driving the mandate to achieve its objectives and live up to its promises as set in the 2015 Minerals and Mining policy.”
The minister further said the Mines and Minerals Act of 2005 also supports giving local companies preferential treatment on supplying the mines.
“In addition, the Mines and Minerals Act requires mining companies to give preference to local goods and services, hence why we shall be gathered at Mokhorong oa Khotla at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village to implement exactly this policy statement. As I said in the previous dialogue, I still want to reiterate that: it would be my greatest pleasure to see not only the locally owned companies but the indigenous locally owned Basotho companies playing the front role in this endeavor. Basotho, the platform is all yours, let us use it effectively and proficiently for the betterment of our livelihoods,” Mr Sello said.
The forum is expected to bring together entrepreneurs from around the country, representatives of mining companies such as Kao, Letšeng, Liqhobong and Mothae as well as representatives of financial institutions.
Topics will include guiding legal framework; catering- types of goods and services required; mining contract- integrating and capacitating emerging companies; engineering, spare parts and general supply; securing financing among others.