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Updated 06 Dec 2020


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The landlocked Kingdom of Lesotho, encircled by South Africa, is renowned for its mountainous topography and resilient clothing and textile sectors.

Although the country’s footprint is small, and with a population of approximately 2 million people, it represents a good destination for retail and service oriented businesses.

Approximately 40% of Lesotho’s population lives below the poverty line, which presents an opportunity for businesses providing low cost products and services to the country. In an effort to boost its population’s literacy and employability, the government is focusing on its youth, providing free primary schooling and bursaries for orphaned and abandoned children.

While its copious natural resources can allow it to become a more significant export player, infrastructure development and foreign investment into mining and agriculture remains a challenge for the country.

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Social overview


Lesotho’s population is expected to grow at approximately 3.5% per annum, however much of the population (approximately 75%) still live in rural conditions.

Although the majority of the population is aged between 15 and 64 years old, Lesotho boasts a substantial youth population.

An estimated 99% of Lesotho’s people identify themselves as Basotho. Their main language, Sesotho, or Sotho, is also the country’s official and administrative language. English is considered its second official language.

The population is estimated to be around 90% Christian, while members of other religions (Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists) comprise the remaining 10% of the population.

According to recent estimates, 85% of its people, older than 14, are literate, meaning Lesotho boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, with female literacy exceeding male literacy. Despite their literacy, Lesotho's people still struggle to access vital services, such as healthcare, travel and educational resources.



Lesotho’s people
  • Population: estimated 1 947 701 people in 2015.
  • 61.91% of the population aged between 15 and 64.
  • Unemployment, poverty and inequality remain challenges.
  • The Lesotho government started a number of initiatives to encourage school attendance. This includes free primary education, school feeding, and bursaries for orphans and vulnerable children.
Environmental overview

Lesotho is the only country in the world that sits entirely above sea level. More than 80% of the country lies above 1 800 metres and because of its altitude, Lesotho remains comparatively cooler in temperature, than South Africa and other African countries, throughout the year.

Most of its rain falls in summer, while winters can be cold, with the Lesotho lowlands dropping to sub-zero temperatures at times. Snow is common in the highlands between May and September, while its higher peaks can experience snowfalls year-round.

Thanks to its abundant rainfalls and dams, Lesotho remains a leading supplier of water resources to South Africa, particularly the Gauteng region. Its dams remain relatively full, compared to other African countries, which makes it easier for businesses involved in agriculture to secure water.

Here are a few environmental challenges that you should consider before your expansion into Lesotho:

  • Mountainous topography can make it difficult for Agri businesses to find suitable, accessible, farming land;
  • Rural areas experience crop failures, deforestation and soil erosion due to cyclical rainfall and overgrazing;
  • Flooding potential is high, particularly in the wet summer season;
  • Water is available in abundance, however infrastructure development around water delivery remains slow;
  • Due to its terrain and layout, transport and logistics around the country can be challenging, depending on the region you are interested in. 
The environment
  • Lesotho experiences cyclical patterns of floods and droughts caused by climate change.
  • This has resulted in soil erosion and land degradation that is further compounded by over- exploitation of natural resources, including overgrazing.
Technology overview

Lesotho has a high mobile market penetration rate, however, Internet penetration rates are much lower than other African countries in the region. According to statistics, less than 6 out of every 100 people access, or make use of, the Internet. This is significantly lower than mobile users, who are measured at 110 per 100 people. This presents an opportunity for businesses in the mobile communications sector.

The country is investing in its telecommunications infrastructure, however, the rate of progress is not fast enough and further investment in comms technology is required to advance businesses’ access to markets in the country.

Its close proximity to South Africa presents an opportunity for tech companies to move across and partake in growing the country’s infrastructure.

Tech outlook
  • Lesotho has a high mobile market penetration rate; however, Internet penetration rates have been much lower.
  • The Internet penetration rate in 2014 was at 5.3 per 100 people, whereas the mobile penetration rate was 110 per 100 people.
  • The country has three mobile operators – Econet-Ezi-Cel (Pty) Ltd, Tele-Com Lesotho (Pty) Ltd and Vodacom Lesotho Pty.
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