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Youths win big at LRA HACKATHON


Ntsoaki Motaung

Two techno business youths Bokang Thola and Karabo Mohapeloa won themselves M30, 000 from the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA)’s HACKATHON coupled with Smart phones worth M5,000 and 10GB of data for three months.

LRA with the support of the national telecommunications giants Vodacom Lesotho Foundation and Econet Telkom Lesotho hosted its first ever techno business forum dubbed the HACKATHON.

At the event, seven groups and three individuals participated, where Big Data Analytics and Blockchain Technologies were leveraged to build working prototypes that address Tax and Customs Compliance Issues.

Speaking at the awarding ceremony held in Berea this week, The LRA Commissioner Operation Support Mapetla Mosooe stated that themes for the LRA HACKATHON 2021 were to develop blockchain based solutions to address customs and tax compliance challenges in the retail sector and to development solutions to improve customs and tax compliance, and to help the administration make real-time data-driven compliance decisions leveraging Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies.

Meanwhile, Commissioner General of LRA Thabo Khasipe indicated that, the HACKATHON was meant for participants to come up with solutions to help ease Tax Customs Compliance Issues.

He indicated that tax and customs work seem to be difficult to do and it’s time for the work to be eased.

“The strategy further intends to use 3rd party data and prepopulated tax and customs declarations in order to achieve automatic compliance. We think it is time to exploit technology and remove the complexity in our work and go back to the basics. We always believe that LRA can even double its revenue collection in the foreseeable future because we will be closing many loopholes that are there in the system that are caused by the complexity of the system and people take full advantage of that,” he said.

When congratulating the winners Khasipe indicated that there were many people who showed interest to participate in the HACKATHON but could not make the cut because of very tight and almost ruthless competition.

“Those that made it to be participants are one of the few and that makes all the participants winners,” he said.

The winning duo was followed by Thuso Sehlooho and Mapota Kalosane walking away with M20, 000, 10 GB mobile modem and 10GB of data and then at third position was Kamohelo Makaka and Lebalang Matsepe who won M10, 000, 10GB of data and 4GB mobile modem.

In his message of gratitude, Thola indicated that he is very thankful to LRA for embracing innovation because “…it’s like all other companies or agencies can join on LRA and support such initiatives. It was not only about the competition but we have also learned a lot from LRA staff and that makes us all winners”.     

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