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for all

A better life

Lefa Motlalane acting general manager of Lesotho Energy Company, the sole electricity provider in Lesotho, talks to South Africa Magazine. By Ian Armitage


Lesotho Energy Company FEATURE


esotho Electricity Corporation (LEC) generates, transmits, and distributes electricity. It owns and operates hydro power stations and was founded in 1969. “We are headquartered in our capital, Maseru,” says Lefa Motlalane, acting general manager, who has worked for the firm since 2003. Motlalane took over the reins, albeit on a temporary basis, following the resignation of the previous general manager. He would like the job full time, having been “chosen because of his experience”. “We are the sole electricity provider in Lesotho,” Motlalane explains. “We take everything from large industrial customers to customers in small, rural areas. “Our goal is to generate, transmit, distribute and supply electricity to everybody across the country at competitive and affordable prices. We generate, supply and distribute electricity throughout the Kingdom and are now moving into rural areas, which have never been serviced before. Before LEC, the government provided electricity and they used a very small coal generating plant, which generated a small amount of energy. We now have a bigger, cleaner energy portfolio and provide electricity throughout the country at a very good rate.” Motlalane says that around 70 percent of what LEC distributes in the country is generated locally, while 30 percent is imported from neighbours South Africa and Mozambique. Eventually all of Lesotho’s power will be generated locally, with any surplus sold abroad. “What sort of energy do we have? In Lesotho we only have renewable. We only have hydro,” Motlalane explains. “Lesotho has huge hydro potential and we have hydro power stations. The highlands water project is Lesotho’s flagship hydro project and it is something we were heavily involved in. It is in the second phase now and we will be instrumental in making sure electricity gets to this project.” Under the water project, created in partnership with South Africa, Lesotho exports water to South Africa’s Gauteng province through a series of

We are the sole electricity provider in Lesotho. We take everything from large industrial customers to customers in small, rural areas

dams and tunnels blasted through the mountains. Gauteng has little water of its own and needs Lesotho to quench its thirst. As a double benefit, the multibillion-dollar project also generates enough hydroelectric power to meet about 90 percent of Lesotho’s energy needs. Water literally is Lesotho’s “white gold”. “It is a project where South Africa buys water that in turn generates enough electricity to meet Lesotho’s needs,” Motlalane says. “We are endowed with huge water resources for power generation.” Lesotho is a tiny landlocked mountain kingdom. It is just over 30,000 km in size with a population of approximately two million. Motlalane says the firm has an important role in helping the Kingdom to grow and flourish. About 40 percent of the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.


“Energy is vital to our country and our country’s growth. LEC plays a huge part in the success. There is lots of potential for Lesotho to grow and we want to power it. “Access to electricity aids economic productivity and improves people’s quality of life. Without power, clinics cannot deliver babies safely at night, children cannot study longer, businesses close at sunset and vaccines cannot be reliably refrigerated.” LEC has been doing much to expand access for the poor. “We have been rolling out electricity into rural areas,” Motlalane says. “It is important to us. We are committed to reaching our millennium tariff goals. “At the moment we are still left with six percent of households to connect.” On September 2000, 191 countries adopted a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly called the Millennium Declaration. From this, a number of Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, were developed. “The main purpose is a vision for the future, a world with less poverty, better health and education, and equal opportunities for all,” says Motlalane. The MDGs are an integrated set of eight goals and 18 time-bound targets to be reached by 2015. Energy is not a goal as such but its input is crucial to reaching most of the millennium development goals. “Electricity is needed to power small industry and enterprise, run health clinics and light schools. Without it, rural poverty will not be eradicated,” Motlalane says. “We 4

Lesotho Energy Company FEATURE

are pleased with the progress we have made. I think we have made a lot of it. When you come into the country now you see most rural areas have electricity.” LEC, he continued, is currently conducting a prefeasibility study that will see a further plant added to its energy portfolio. “We are in the process of building a new plant with a French company. We are doing a prefeasibility study. It will be 1000MW of pump storage at Monontsa in the North of the country. “What are the goals? Well what will happen here is that because Lesotho’s demand is less than 1000MW, more or less, we will take 200 MW from there and the rest will be exported to South Africa. Eskom has shown interest in taking that. “To summarise, a pre-feasibility study is under way for the construction of a 1000MW pumped-hydro energy storage project.”

Motlalane thinks it will be operational by 2018 and with thoughts to the future, he says a lot will happen in 2012. “We are now a fully fledged utility. We will go through changes in 2012. In 2001 an interim management task force was brought in to turn around LEC because then it was making financial losses. These guys came in and turned things around and restructured the company. So, immediately after it surfaced from the losses it was making, we realised the structure was more rigid and didn’t support the business in the way we wanted. This is why now we need to restructure to get the right structure that makes sure we deliver on what we need, aligning processes better to the business. “This is an exciting time to be part of LEC.” END To learn more visit

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