Economy in Lesotho

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Economy—overview: Small landlocked and mountainous Lesotho has no important natural resources other than water. Its economy is based on agriculture light manufacturing and remittances from miners employed in South Africa. The number of such mine workers has declined steadily over the past five years; in 1996 their remittances added about 33% to GDP compared with the addition of roughly 67% in 1990. Manufacturing depends largely on farm products which support the milling canning leather and jute industries. Recent foreign investments will enable Lesotho to export garments made from imported textiles. Although drought has decreased agricultural activity over the past few years completion of a major hydropower facility in January 1998 now permits the sale of water to South Africa and will support the economy's continued expansion. The pace of the privatization of state-owned firms increased toward the end of 1994.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$5.1 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 9% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$2 500 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 10%

industry: 53%

services: 37% (1997)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 8.7% (1996 est.)

Labor force:

total: 689 000 economically active

by occupation: 86% of resident population engaged in subsistence agriculture; roughly 35% of the active male wage earners work in South Africa

Unemployment rate: substantial unemployment and underemployment effecting more than half of the labor force (1996 est.)


revenues: $507 million

expenditures: $487 million including capital expenditures of $170 million (FY96/97 est.)

Industries: food beverages textiles handicrafts; construction; tourism

Industrial production growth rate: 19.7% (1995)

Electricity—capacity: 0 kW (1995)

note: electricity supplied by South Africa

Electricity—production: 0 kWh (1995)

note: electricity supplied by South Africa

Electricity—consumption per capita: 163 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: corn wheat pulses sorghum barley; livestock


total value: $218 million (f.o.b. 1996 est.)

commodities: clothing wool footwear road vehicles mohair (1995)

partners: South African Customs Union 52% North America 38% EU 9% (1995)


total value: $1.1 billion (c.i.f. 1996 est.)

commodities: corn clothing building materials vehicles machinery medicines petroleum products (1993)

partners: South African Customs Union 90% Asia 6% EU 2% (1995)

Debt—external: $517 million (FY95/96 est.)

Economic aid:

recipient: ODA $NA

Currency: 1 loti (L) = 100 lisente

note: maloti (M) is the plural form of loti

Exchange rates: maloti (M) per US$1—4.94193 (January 1998) 4.60796 (1997) 4.29935 (1996) 3.62709 (1995) 3.55080 (1994) 3.26774 (1993); note—the Basotho loti is at par with the South African rand

Fiscal year: 1 April—31 March

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