Lesotho is an enclaved, landlocked kingdom in southern Africa completely surrounded by the country of South Africa. Lesotho has progressed in moving from a predominantly subsistence-oriented economy to a lower middle income economy exporting natural resources and manufacturing goods. The exporting sectors have brought higher and more secure incomes to a significant portion of the population.
The Internet penetration rate was over 20% in early 2017. Vodacom Lesotho, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, recently finished rolling out 3G across its entire wireless network. As such, around 94% of the country’s population are now able to access 3G data services.
Lesotho has a rudimentary system consisting of a modest number of landlines, a small microwave radio relay system, and a small radiotelephone communication system; mobile-cellular telephone system is expanding. Two main companies are competing to attract the most customers, particularly in the mobile sector. The Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) is the regulatory agency.
Small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa, Lesotho depends on a narrow economic base of textile manufacturing, agriculture, remittances, and regional customs revenue. About three-fourths of the people live in rural areas and engage in animal herding and subsistence agriculture, although Lesotho produces less than 20% of the nation’s demand for food. Agriculture is vulnerable to weather and climate variability.
Lesotho relies on South Africa for much of its economic activity; Lesotho imports 90% of the goods it consumes from South Africa, including most agricultural inputs. Households depend heavily on remittances from family members working in South Africa in mines, on farms, and as domestic workers, though mining employment has declined substantially since the 1990s. Lesotho is a member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), and revenues from SACU accounted for roughly 44% of total government revenue in 2014. Lesotho also gains royalties from the South African Government for water transferred to South Africa from a dam and reservoir system in Lesotho. However, the government continues to strengthen its tax system to reduce dependency on customs duties and other transfers.
The government maintains a large presence in the economy – government consumption accounted for 27% of GDP in 2016. The government remains Lesotho’s largest employer. Lesotho managed steady GDP growth at an average of 4.5% from 2010 to 2014 but poverty remains widespread around 57% of the total population.
Vodacom Group Limited (Vodacom) is an African mobile communications company, providing voice, messaging, data and converged services to over 55 million customers. From its roots in South Africa, Vodacom has grown its operations to include networks in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, and Lesotho and provides business services to customers in over 40 African countries.
None reported as of June 2017