Of Lesotho’s total land area, just one quarter has agricultural potential. Less than half of this is suitable for arable farming, with the remaining agricultural land supporting livestock. Crop production accounts for 70 percent of agricultural GDP, and livestock production for 30 percent.
In light of the information revolution sweeping the world, the development and utilisation of cutting-edge information and communications technology (ICT) is seen as essential in opening up new opportunities, improving service deliver helping to alleviate poverty and allowing Lesotho’s economy to realise its full potential.
Lesotho is a small open economy and is classified as a lower-middle-income economy by the World Bank. The economy is vulnerable to global economic volatility. However, the economic resilience of its main trading partner, South Africa, has to some extent shielded it from external volatility. Lesotho’s economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture and livestock farming. About 82% of the population live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood. However, half of the rural income is derived from migrants working in South Africa, particularly in the mining sector.
Developing the country’s human resource base is an important foundation for growth as well as fulfilling the fundamental human right to education. Tremendous strides have been made in Lesotho’s education system in the past several years, especially through the provision of free primary education.
Future economic growth in Lesotho needs to be balanced with the protection of valuable ecosystem. Environmental conservation is vital not only for further tourism development and agricultural expansion, but also for government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.
You are unlikely to catch any dangerous diseases in Lesotho’s clean mountain air. Because the country is at such a high altitude, there are very few insects and no mosquitoes – hence no malaria. You are most at risk from the weather and being caught without sufficient clothing and equipment. When it rains it pours and you can get seriously wet and cold very quickly, so make sure you are properly equipped regardless of the time of year.
The spiraling rate of urbanization in Lesotho has been spurred on by the growth of manufacturing industries, which have drawn many work seekers to town and the rapidly expanding peri-urban areas, with Maseru having absorbed the largest share of this population influx. The supply of utilities to these areas is of concern, and the present ad hoc settlement pattern underline the need for a coordinated approach to urban development.
Lesotho has undergone significant industrial expansion in the past several years, with numerous international textile and garment firms having successfully established their manufacturing concerns in the country. Further development in this sector has been prioritised due to its ability to create sustainable employment opponunities, thereby contributing substantially to poverty alleviation.
The development of transport infrastructure – road networks in particular – is vital to economic and social advancement in Lesotho as well as the broader African region. While huge investments have already been made, accelerated network expansion is needed to unlock the growth potential of sectors such as tourism and agriculture, especially in the rural areas.
Lesotho Highlands Water Project
Supplying the Republic of South Africa with millions of cubic metres of water per year, the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is the largest and most ambitious long-term water transfer scheme of its kind on the continent, and has done much to develop the region’s water supply. The project supplies water locally as well as to South Africa’s Vaal Dam through the trans-Caledon tunnel.