WELCOME REMARKS BY THE PETROLEUM FUND’S CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MR. THATO MOHASOA
Good morning everyone who is attending this event – both physically and through online platforms. We are delighted that you could join us at this Stakeholders Forum, to share thoughts about one of the most exciting business prospects that the Fund intends to introduce in the country – Mobile Filling Stations. I am grateful to our panellists for agreeing to take the part in the discussions. In particular, we are indebted to Mr. Ackim Chirwa, who agreed to travel all the way from Zambia, to share with us his experiences in dealing with Mobile Filling Stations.
The Petroleum Fund was established to ensure that there is a security of supply of petroleum products in the country. It is expected of it to ensure, among other things, that it facilitates for the improvement of the distribution and accessibility of those products throughout the country.
It is in this regard that the Fund, as a public institution with a clear mandate within the petroleum sub-sector, aligns itself with the Lesotho Energy Policy (2015-2025) which seeks to provide a strategic direction that the country should follow in the energy sector, noting the pivotal role that energy plays in driving socio-economic development of Lesotho. In particular to petroleum products, this Policy provides a mandate to address, among other things, issues around importation, storage, distribution, investment and consumption.
In line with this Policy, and pursuant to its statutory mandate and its Strategic Plan (2020-2025), the Petroleum Fund came to a realisation that there was a need to assess the extent of the supply shortages of petroleum products in the country, and also determine the necessary interventions which could address those shortages. Consequently, the Fund undertook a country-wide Needs Assessment exercise, which entailed undertaking a Gap Analysis to identify throttles within the entire petroleum sector value chain; Assessment of the Structural Policy and Legislative Framework, and any other factors that could be impeding on the supply of products in Lesotho. Following these assessments, necessary recommendations were made regarding corrective measures that could be undertaken, and in particular recommendations on projects that could be developed, particularly in the remote parts of the country, to mitigate supply challenges there.
One of the projects that were recommended for consideration for rolling out was Mobile Filling Stations in underserviced and remote parts of the country. In rolling out the recommended projects, the Fund has in mind a two-pronged objective – that of ensuring the security of supply of petroleum products in the country, as well as creating opportunities for investment and jobs for the local people, which will also stimulate the country’s economy. It was with these objectives in mind that recommendations on setting up of projects also suggested several Projects Transaction Structures or models for their financing, which include the following:
- Build Own Operate Transfer (BOOT)
- Build Operate Transfer (BOT)
- Build Transfer (BT)
- Build Own Operate (BOO)
- Rehabilitate Own Operate Transfer (ROOT)
It is no wonder therefore that today’s event includes participation from a wide array of potential players, who will be pivotal in ensuring that the stated objectives of introducing these projects are achieved. These are institutions that we hope can serve as catalysts for financial intermediation for the successful roll-out of the Mobile Fillings Stations ambition in Lesotho. They include among others, the following; commercial banks, insurance companies, the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation, the Lesotho National Development Corporation, and the business community. Going forward, the Fund will be holding a series of consultative meetings with various other stakeholders, to continue to sell this idea, in order that we can successfully achieve our statutory mandate.
It would be remiss of me to conclude these welcome remarks without mentioning that in preparation for this event, we undertook a Study Tour to Lusaka, Zambia, to visit some of the operators of Mobile Filling Stations, under the auspices of the Energy Regulation Board, who organised meetings for us with various players within the Mobile Filling Stations space, in order to appreciate first-hand, their operability. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their guidance and facilitation during our visit there, which made it possible for us to now be able to organise and hold a more informative session of today.
Once again, thank you for joining us, and we look forward to a healthy and mutually-beneficial interaction between you and the Petroleum Fund, both today and in the future.
I thank you.