The State of ICT in Lesotho

Policy Paper Series 5: After Access-Assessing digital inequality in Africa
Policy Paper: The 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 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 recommends policies and strategies to enable the take-off of broadband in Lesotho. This is achieved by undertaking both a supply-side and demand-side analysis of the market.

The supply-side assessment of market performance in Lesotho is based on the benchmarking of core public policy indicators such as infrastructure expansion as well as affordable access to services and devices against a set of countries that are similar across a number of variables. The demand-side analysis draws from a nationally representative survey conducted late in 2016 by LCA and it measures ICT access and use. We know from this survey that access to the Internet in Lesotho now stands at 32.7% (see Part 2 below).

On this basis, this study identifies bottlenecks in the markets and demand challenges inhibiting take up of the Internet in Lesotho, and makes recommendations to overcome these.

Suggested citation

Gillwald, A., Deen-Swarray, M., & Mothobi, O. (2017). The State of ICT in Lesotho (Series 5: After Access – Assessing Digital Inequality in Africa) [Policy Paper]. Research ICT Africa.