Lesotho: What does the future hold?

Source: Google Maps

When people are asked to name African nations, a few common answers come to mind, such as Nigeria, Egypt and Africa for those less knowledgeable about the region. Africa is a diverse continent with 54 countries, and a unique one this article seeks to highlight is Lesotho, a landlocked country encircled by South Africa.

Much like other former colonies, Lesotho became independent in 1966 from the United Kingdom, making it a relatively young nation. Given its history and lack of natural advantages like being along a shipping route, it does not come as a surprise that Lesotho is a lower middle-income economy. How then, can Lesotho leverage its limited advantages to drive investment and growth into its economy?

Lesotho holds a comparative advantage amongst its other African peers in having an 82% literacy rate (Knoema Atlas). That is a lot higher than the average rate of reading in the whole continent, which stands at around 67% (Galal). Lesotho also has many beautiful landscapes and natural resources, boasting large amounts of diamonds and the highest peak in Southern Africa (Wikipedia). Despite this, the Lesotho economy is still largely reliant on agriculture, livestock, mining and remittances from workers in South Africa (Government of Lesotho).

To diversify its economy, Lesotho should focus more on the service industry, namely the tourism industry and business services. These areas boast great potential to improve wages and drive economic growth without requiring large and risky investments.

Firstly, Lesotho should expand more on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and expand more into the service industry, such as being a hub for Call Centers. There are two reasons why this might be effective. Firstly, Lesotho is strategically located in GMT +2 timezone, meaning that it is possible to provide after-hour call services for American companies. Secondly, international trade is reliant on good relations between nations, and Lesotho already provides Visa-free access to all US tourists. Having worked with many American companies to become the biggest exporter of garments in sub-Saharan Africa, it would be strategic to suggest the building of call centres and potentially remote tech-related support services to American companies in the future. With proper investment in education, the people of Lesotho should be equipped to perform these jobs at high levels.

Secondly, Lesotho should expand more into the tourism industry. This would require large investments in roads, hotels and infrastructure. The potential benefits to more tourists are wide-ranging. In the short term, tourism would bring about many jobs and economic spending. In the long term, it would be easier for Lesotho to seek foreign investment into the country because more people know of and maybe will visit Lesotho in their lifetime.

The lack of infrastructure is a major hurdle to bringing tourists into the country. There is only 1 international carrier that has flights to Moshoeshoe International Airport. People cannot explore the beauty Lesotho has to offer if it is so difficult to get there. Lesotho also has a large potential for eco-tourism, with its undeveloped countryside and wildlife. The country would do well to promote the fact that it has the only ski resort in sub-Saharan Africa (International Trade Administration).

safta cyrine

Cyrine SAFTA : Holder of a bachelor’s degree in English language, civilization and literature. Currently, I am a first-year Master’s student, English-speaking World. I am working on my research project which consists of comparing two social movements: Black Lives Matter in the United States and the Arab Spring in Tunisia. I am also a home English and French teacher at Acadomia, France and a volunteer at Afev France. I am also a volunteer for a mentoring mission at the FDNU (Federation of Diplomacy and the United Nations). Subsequently, I will continue my studies by doing a PHD with the specialty of North American Civilization, in order to become a teacher-researcher in American civilization.

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