Find Telecommunication expertise in Lesotho
Since the new millennium, Lesotho has transformed its telecommunications and internet sector from being fully state-controlled to a privatised and competitive service system.
The most recent figure available suggests that the industry makes up 0.61% of its GDP (Trading Economics, 2005). Approximately 268 employees worked in the telecoms and internet sector in 2006; no recent figures are available (Econstats). This is approximately 3.17% of the labour force as it was recorded in 2010 (Trading Economics). Much of this increase has been down to the growth and development of ETL since 2008, with that company alone contributing over 250 employees.
The main mobile competition occurs between Econet and Vodacom (based in South Africa). Econet also owns the national fixed-line service provider, Telecom Lesotho, and is known as Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL). The government retains 30% ownership of this national operator. The 2008 merger allowed ETL to provide fixed line, mobile, and internet and data services to customers under a single body.
Government involvement continues despite having less control since the merger, as is demonstrated in the local regulatory environment. The main regulatory body is the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA), formerly known as the Lesotho Telecommunications Authority (LTA), which was set up in 2000. According to the LCA, its mandate – under the Communications Act no. 4 2012 – is “granting licences to operators; promoting fair competition; approving tariffs; managing the radio frequency spectrum; empowering and protecting consumers; type approving terminal equipment and other related matters” (LCA, 2012).
Extreme weather such as snow and a lack of electricity in more rural areas still hinder Lesotho’s infrastructural development. Its mountainous terrain makes it difficult to connect the entire region. However, there are positive signs for Lesotho. Despite being landlocked, the importing of fibre optic cables and improvement of connectivity across West and East African coasts has meant there is a good selection of international bandwidth (KPMG, 2012). It has been promised that more attention will be focused on improving the fixed landline system in Lesotho following infrastructure damage caused by vandalism (ETL press release, 2013).
Lesotho is supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and its e-Africa Programme, which is designed to connect the whole of Africa through submarine and terrestrial cable networks. NEPAD also runs an e-school project which aims to provide a computer lab for each school it works with. The country also takes part in the Pan African e-Network, an organisation designed to provide education for African students in subjects such as business, finance and IT at Indian universities.
There are 24 landlines, 1,019 mobile phone subscriptions, 1 broadband subscription and 17 mobile broadband subscriptions per 1,000 people (2014). Data from 2013 shows that 4.6% of the population use the internet, which includes 9.8 kbps of international bandwidth per user (World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14’).
Mobile coverage is confined to the main towns, with internet cafés being primarily located in Maseru.
|Telecoms and Internet Service Providers organisations in Lesotho|
|Econet Telecom Lesotho||
|Lesotho Communications Authority||