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Online firm registry faces glitches

by Lesotho Times


Bereng Mpaki

THE online company registry of the One Stop Business Facilitation Centre (OBFC) will soon return to full operation as soon as an ongoing systems upgrade is completed.

According to OBFC Acting Director Monaheng Vincent Monaheng, the disruption was due to the ongoing information technology (IT) infrastructure enhancements at the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (MCST), where the system’s servers are hosted.

The online registry, which is implemented by OBFC under the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), has been switching off at random intervals since July this year. As a result, business community were finding it difficult to search the register and lodge documents for registration online.

The glitches also mean the government is unable to collect revenue in exchange for delivering the service to entrepreneurs.

The system was installed in December 2014 through the help of a New Zealand software company Foster Moore International Limited, which supplied the government of Lesotho with the Catalyst software.  The online registry was introduced to speed up the company registration process, as part of the country’s efforts to improve its investment climate.

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

Mr Monaheng said they were expecting the service to return to normalcy as soon as the system enhancement is completed. The MCST is enhancing its IT system in preparation for the introduction of e-government — a computer system linking all functions of the ministries together.

He also dismissed allegations the online company registration system was faltering due to their failure to pay the service provider.

“It is not true that the system is experiencing challenges due to non-payment of service provider. The truth is our system is experiencing these challenges due to on-going IT system enhancement at the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology which is where our system is being hosted,” Mr Monaheng said.

He said Foster Moore International Limited was fully paid for the current financial year, and the company had never shut down the system due to late payment by the government of Lesotho.

Mr Monaheng said the major reason that influenced the decision to host the system at the MCST was due to the existence of the requisite IT infrastructure which the MTI did not have.

He also indicated that the disruption had taught them of the need to have a back-up plan, which they had already started working on.

“We are already making preparations to have the system backed up on the Cloud system technology, which will complement the existing MCST infrastructure but as a primary host,” Mr Monaheng said.

“We are also working towards making the system functional during its off-line times to allow internal access so that walk-in clients can still obtain the services manually.”

Meanwhile, the OBFC has also called on betting firms to come to the OBFC to renew their traders’ licenses.

The service had been temporarily suspended, along with issuing new licenses, at the ministry for some time. This had resulted in some businesses operating with expired traders’ licenses.

“According to the Betting and Lotteries Act, regulation and offering of such services is a responsibility of the Ministry of Finance, although they have been offered here for a long time,” Mr Monaheng said.

“But recently, the Ministry of Finance requested that we return the services to them. However, that has not been successful and now the services of renewing existing licenses will resume at the OBFC while discussions with the Ministry of Finance are continuing,”


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