Communication & media
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’s ICT sector, which encompasses telecommunications (fixed wireless), broadcasting, multimedia, Internet and e-mail, distance learning, telemedicine, postal services, banking and electronic commerce, s witnessed rapid progress over the past few years. Against the backdrop of an increasingly liberalised operating environment, private sector participation diversifying the industry and opening up new opportunities for growth.
Consisting of both fixed and mobile telephony, Lesotho’s telecommunications network has undergone gradual transformation from a state-owned monopoly to a majority-privatised national operator, with further liberalisation seen as a way of increasing competition and improving service delivery. Additional connections have been established as a result of network rehabilitation and upgrading, and a concerted development programme has reached outlying areas that previously had no telecommunications contact with the rest of the country.
The introduction of mobile telephony has greatly increased teledensity, with the number of mobile telephones overtaking fixed lines in 2001. Mobile penetration was estimated at 12.9 percent in early 2006, compared with a fixed-line teledensity and Internet penetration of a little over 2 percent, even though Internet usage more than doubled in 2004. The use of wireless WLL technology is rapidly increasing teledensity and should also see a rise in Internet penetration.
Access to international networks has been enhanced through a submarine cable, the SAT-3IWASC/SAFE, which presently connects 36 African countries, via satellite and terrestrial connections, to Europe and Asia through its 28 000-kilometre optical fibre cable network. A technological breakthrough of great significance to the continent, the initiative offers faster, more efficient trading channels between Africa and international markets, and has the potential to reach some 70 percent of the population across the continent.
Broadcasting & Mass media
A fast growing mass media service, Lesotho Television established in 1988 and re-launched in 1999. Program newscasts in Sesotho and English, sports, current events, children’s shows, including several locally produced program using the transmitters of South Africa’s pay-service M-Net, LTV now uses its own dedicated transmitter network. South Africa also available in Lesotho, as are satellite links to other broadcasters.
Services offered by Lesotho’s post offices include internal which is delivered to post boxes, private bags and post offices counters countrywide, as well as money order facilities, courier set variety of other standard postal services.
The government’s and privarisation programme is seeing the commercialisation, Lesotho Postal Services, supported by a variety of new policies aimed reforming the sector, establishing a regulator and licensing new operators.