Imani Development is part of a consortium of partners delivering the Africa Reform for Investment and Sustainable Economies (RISE) programme. The 12.7 million Euro technical assistance facility is aimed at assisting private and public sector organisations at national and regional level to, support job creation, strengthen financial access for MSMEs, and upgrade value chains to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth.

Africa RISE operates in 25 countries across East Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean and includes countries like Comoros, Mauritius, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, and Lesotho.

Wool and Mohair are the major agricultural export commodities of Lesotho, accounting for nearly 60% of agricultural exports. However, for a long time, potential taxation and other economic benefits to the country have been lost to the Republic of South Africa as Lesotho wool and mohair has been marketed through South African trading platforms. Almost all Lesotho’s mohair is processed in South Africa and is converted into tops and yarns for further downstream production.

Over the last 30 years all washing and scouring of wool in RSA has stopped with the last wash/carbonization plant in Uitenhage closing in 2019. All Lesotho wool exported to South Africa is now re-exported in greasy form for further processing. Lesotho currently  relies on the Wool Testing Bureau of South Africa for testing its fibre before selling it. As a result, there is no value add to Lesotho wool exports. The government of Lesotho is now investigating channels and mechanisms for exporting directly to processors of grease wool world-wide.

Africa RISE has been asked by the European Union Delegation in Maseru and the Government of Lesotho, to examine the feasibility of setting up a test laboratory in Lesotho. The government intends to set up a wool testing laboratory which will be neutrally positioned and committed to serve the entire wool industry in Lesotho. The laboratory will provide sampling and testing services to the domestic wool industry. It will be responsible for objective testing and research for purposes of the certification of wool according to the requirements laid down by the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO).

If the outcome is positive, the Ministry of Small Business Development, Cooperatives and Marketing will set up the laboratory as an in dependent operation to serve the entire wool industry in Lesotho. This initiative will ensuring that a greater portion of natural fibres produced in Lesotho are processed in the country prior to being exported.

The final report will provide the government with comprehensive information on the requirements for establishment, accreditation and operation of a laboratory with the capacity to handle all samples in accordance with the IWTO Standards, as well as, issuing wool test certificates accepted by the wool industry world-wide. This report is due for delivery soon and will be presented to the industry.

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