Natural resources and energy
The large quantities of water found in the mountainous areas are the country’s most important natural resource. Water, which the Lesothians call “the white gold”, is exported to South Africa. Lesotho also has high quality diamonds.
South Africa and Lesotho agreed in 1986 on a joint water project (Lesotho highlands water project, LHWP), with the aim of supplying water in South Africa at the same time as Lesotho will become self-sufficient in electricity. The huge infrastructure project includes plans for five dams, millions with large water tunnels through the mountains, a hydroelectric plant and roads and bridges. A first phase was completed in 2004 and a second was started in 2014. Many foreign companies are involved in the project, which is also supported by, among others, the World Bank. However, it has been criticized for large interventions in the environment and social consequences for thousands of people who have been forced to leave their homes or have their lands laid under water. The project has also been surrounded by corruption scandals.
- COUNTRYAAH: Major exports by Lesotho with a full list of the top products exported by the country. Includes trade value in U.S. dollars and the percentage for each product category.
So far, electricity generation in Lesotho is not enough to meet the country’s needs, but electricity is still imported from South Africa. In the long term, however, Lesotho is expected to become an exporter, not least since a new large wind and hydroelectric project was launched in 2011: Lesotho highlands power project (LHPP). It is financed to 80 percent with loans from China and is said to be the largest project with renewable electricity in Africa.
- Abbreviationfinder: A popular acronym site in the world covering abbreviation for each country. For example, LS stands for Lesotho. Visit itypeusa for more information about Lesotho.
Only a small part of the Lesothian households have access to electricity. Firewood is an important source of energy for the Lesothians, but the forest stock is declining. All oil is imported.
Diamonds are mainly mined in the Letseng-la Terai mine, which is majority owned by the international diamond producer Gem Diamonds. In recent years, mining has also increased in other diamond mines. The Lesothian diamonds have the highest average carat content in the world.
In Lesotho there are also deposits of uranium, lead and iron ore.
Lesotho’s environment is harshly tested when people and grazing livestock are crowded on a small part of the land area and are subjected to severe pressure there. The soil layer is thin and the vegetation is sparse.
FACTS – ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
Energy use per person
10 kilos of oil equivalents (2007)
Carbon dioxide emissions in total
2 468 thousand tonnes (2014)
Carbon dioxide emissions per inhabitant
1.2 tonnes (2014)
The share of energy from renewable sources
52.1 percent (2015)
The first part of hydropower construction is being completed
The first phase of the construction of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project hydropower plant is completed. The work began in 1986 and is scheduled to be completed by 2020. The plant will supply South Africa with water and, by extension, electricity.
An emergency permit is introduced
Prime Minister Pakhalitha Mosisili is preparing for an emergency permit to facilitate relief work in the face of hundreds of thousands of lesbians suffering from famine as a result of three years of severe drought and misery. The country is appealing to the world about food aid.