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Standards body opens doors



MASERU-THE Lesotho Standards Institution (LSI) began operations yesterday opening doors for local products to reach international markets. Trade Minister, Thabiso Molapo, said the operationalisation of the LSI will enable Basotho to penetrate international markets like African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and newly implemented Continental Africa Free Trade Area. This also means Basotho can produce quality products that will be accepted on the international markets. The institution will offer certification and inspection services. It will also carry out testing activities, develop and publish national standards as well as conduct training to capacitate the private sector. Molapo said Lesotho deliberately used a mixture of modern world benchmarking against the likes of Sweden, Iceland and localising it to align itself with models used by its Southern African Development Community (SADC) counterparts. “2020 presented challenges that stretched our economy to the limit, with dire consequences on the livelihoods of many,” Molapo said. “The Ministry of Trade, together with its partners and stakeholders, has been working tirelessly to assist the government to implement its plan of creating jobs mainly through private sector-led initiatives,” he said. Molapo added that Basotho should take advantage of the LSI to secure a fair share in the vast African market and beyond. “This move is in line with priorities stipulated in the 2020/21 budget speech aimed at growing the economy by increasing production of high value products for export,” he said. The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade, Maile Masoebe, said bottled water is going to be the first local product that will be prioritised. “This is because that industry is still in the hands of Basotho and we are going to capacitate already existing businesses so that business can be in the hands of Basotho,” Masoebe said. “We will bottle water and export to the likes of America and no investors will be sourced,” he said. According to Masoebe the fresh fruits and vegetable markets will follow suit. The Acting CEO of LSI, Molebatsi Rabolinyane, said the ministry faced a lot of problems like lack of human resources and equipment along the way. As a result, the ministry had to train staff, develop a business model and find a site where the institution will be housed. “At the moment the LSI is housed in the ministry’s (offices) on the third floor but is an independent entity that will soon have its own premises,” Rabolinyane said. Rabolinyane added that the institution will also test hand sanitizers to ascertain their effectiveness and that indeed they have been made out of correct items. He also said the LSI is in the final stages of preparing to sign an MOU with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) “so that we can work together without any difficulties”. Lemohang Rakotsoane

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