State of ICT in Lesotho

While Lesotho has made significant progress towards its national vision of 2020, it faces several challenges as a small landlocked, lower-middle income country, with mountainous terrain and low population density outside of the capital, Maseru. The five-year National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) 2012/13 – 2016/17 identified ICTs as the backbone of a modern economy and contributing to the reduction of risks associated with urbanisation, poor infrastructure, poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Yet, currently close to 65% of the population have not the accessed Internet. The purpose of this sector performance review is to establish a baseline for the telecommunications market in Lesotho, focusing on broadband – a system of high capacity, high speed and high-quality electronic networks, services, applications and content – so as to assess its progress towards meeting the vision of the NSDP. In doing so, the review identifies the policy, regulatory and market bottlenecks inhibiting sectoral development and recommend policies and strategies to enable the take-off of broadband in Lesotho.

Download complete report here and the policy brief here.

The report was commissioned by the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) and International Telecommunication Union (ITU). It was prepared by Alison Gillwald, Mariama Deen-Swarray and Onkokame Mothobi. The authors thank those who made their time and expertise available to be interviewed for the report. The supply- and demand-side study were coordinated by Nthabiseng Pule from LCA. The data gathering for the supply side analysis was supported by Moliehi Makhele and Motsamai Mochebelele. Although some data was added after the validation workshop in March 2017, the data collection was done in August 2016 and it does not capture changes in the sector since then.

Photos courtesy of  Alison Gillwald during the survey training and pilot phase with the field team

The arduous fieldwork for the survey was undertaken over nine weeks by a dedicated team of enumerators from September to November 2016 led by Dikokole Maqutu and Maloko Phakisa from LCA. The Lesotho Bureau of Statistics supported the sampling and weighting for the survey and provided the maps of the selected enumeration areas. The study was co-funded by LCA and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Supplementary funding was received from the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) for the inclusion of this study in a comparative analysis of access and usage across Africa, Asia and Latin America being undertaken during 2017.