Lesotho - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Lesotho - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Telecom services in Lesotho are managed by a privatised national operator, Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL). The mobile sector is a duopoly between South Africa-based Vodacom and ETL, though competition is insufficient to promote effective price reductions for consumers. Mobile penetration remains below the regional average, while the small size of the market provides little incentive for new players to enter the market.

Fixed-line teledensity is also low, but the fixed network has gained value since DSL services were launched in 2007. In parallel, ETL has rolled out a fixed-wireless network. In addition, the company has introduced a fixed-mobile convergence product and is capitalising on its multi-platform capabilities.

Vodacom was the first operator to introduce mobile broadband services in the country, supplemented with a WiMAX network. In late 2014 the company launched commercial services based on LTE technology. This was followed by fixed-wireless 5G trials in early 2019 based on a trial 3.5GHz licence. Vodacom Lesotho was among the first network operators in the region to conduct such trials.

Although landlocked, Lesotho has benefited from connectivity to the several submarine fibre optic cables which land on African east and west coasts. These have considerably improved international bandwidth, though access prices for the two ISPs remain high and as a consequence internet take-up among consumers has been stymied.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

Vodacom Lesotho continues with 5G trials;
ETL expands FttP network;
Safaricom and Vodacom Group acquire the M-Pesa brand;
Improved internet connectivity following landing of international cables;
Universal Service Agency expanding base tower infrastructure in remote areas;
Report update includes ITU statistics, regulator's ICT market report, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, operator data to Q1 2020, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Telecom Lesotho, Econet a, Vodacom Lesotho, Eskom, Comnet.


  • Executive Summary
  • Key statistics
    • Table Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities – Lesotho – 2020 (e)
  • Regional Africa Market Comparison
    • TMI VS GDP
    • MOBILE AND MOBILE BROADBAND
    • FIXED AND MOBILE BROADBAND
  • Country overview
  • COVID-19 and its impact on the telecom sector
    • ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS AND RESPONSES
    • MOBILE DEVICES
    • SUBSCRIBERS
    • INFRASTRUCTURE
  • Telecommunications market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
  • Regulatory environment
    • TELECOMMUNICATION POLICY OF 1999
    • ICT POLICY 2005
    • COMMUNICATIONS POLICY 2008
    • NATIONAL MASTER PLAN
    • TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 2000
    • COMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 2012
    • NATIONAL STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT PLAN (NSDP)
    • REGULATORY AUTHORITY
    • TELECOM SECTOR LIBERALISATION
    • PRIVATISATION
    • LICENCE FEES
    • SIM CARD REGISTRATION
    • UNIVERSAL SERVICE FUND (USF)
  • Mobile market
    • MARKET ANALYSIS
    • MOBILE STATISTICS
      • Table Growth in the number of mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Lesotho – 2010 – 2025
    • MOBILE BROADBAND
      • Table Growth in the number of active mobile broadband subscribers – 2010- 2025
    • MOBILE INFRASTRUCTURE
      • 5G
      • 4G (LTE)
      • 3G
      • Other infrastructure developments
    • MAJOR MOBILE OPERATORS
      • Vodacom Lesotho
        • Table Growth in the number of Vodacom Lesotho's mobile subscribers – 2010 – 2020
        • Table Growth in the number of Vodacom Lesotho's active data subscribers – 2014 – 2020
        • Table Change in Vodacom Lesotho's mobile ARPU – 2011 – 2020
        • Table Increase in Vodacom Lesotho's revenue – 2018 – 2020
      • ETL
        • Table Growth in the number of ETL's mobile subscribers – 2014 – 2019
    • MOBILE CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS
      • m-payment
        • Table Increase in the number of Vodacom Lesotho's M-Pesa subscribers – 2017 – 2020
      • m-learning
  • Fixed-line broadband market
    • INTRODUCTION AND STATISTICAL OVERVIEW
    • BROADBAND STATISTICS
      • Table Proportion of households with internet access in Lesotho – 2007 – 2020
      • Table Growth in the number of fixed-line broadband subscribers and penetration – 2010 – 2025
    • FIXED-LINE BROADBAND TECHNOLOGIES
      • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
        • Table Growth in the number of DSL broadband subscribers – 2011- 2020
      • Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) networks
      • Other fixed broadband services
  • Fixed network operator
    • ECONET TELECOM LESOTHO (ETL)
  • Telecommunications infrastructure
    • OVERVIEW OF THE NATIONAL TELECOM NETWORK
      • Table Change in the number of fixed lines in service and teledensity in Lesotho – 2010 – 2025
    • INTERNATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE
      • Satellite
      • Terrestrial and submarine fibre
        • Table Increase in international bandwidth – 2010 – 2018
  • Appendix – Historic data
    • Table Historic - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate in Lesotho – 1999 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Vodacom Lesotho subscribers and churn rate – 2002 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Vodacom Lesotho revenue (ZAR) – 2017 – 2018
    • Table Historic - Fixed lines in service and teledensity in Lesotho – 1999 – 2009
    • Table Historic - International bandwidth – 2001 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Internet users and penetration rate in Lesotho – 1999 – 2015
    • Table Historic - Fixed-line internet subscribers – 2002 – 2009
    • Table Historic - Fixed-line broadband subscribers and penetration – 2007 – 2009
  • Glossary of abbreviations
  • Related reports

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