History of Electricity in Lesotho and The Place of ‘Muela Hydropower Plant in The Wider Context of The Southern African Power Pool

  • T Tsikoane National University of Lesotho


This paper examines the history of electricity in Lesotho from the colonial time to the present within the broader framework of socio-economic development. Taking the ’Muela hydropower plant, the Lesotho Electricity Corporation and the Southern African Power Pool as illustration, the paper raises three related arguments. First, that the project nature of the power plant severely limited its potential relative to the need to electrify the countryside for purposes of expediting socio-economic transformation to make it possible for the Basotho nation as a whole to attain a higher standard of well being. Second, that privatisation of electricity as a social product is inimical to the Government of Lesotho’s professed policy of social provisioning with a view to achieving national development and eradication of rural poverty. Third, the paper identifies a significant disparity between policy assertions and evidence on the ground. The paper argues further that the ambiguities surrounding policy statements on national electrification in Lesotho are less of an accident than testimony that the capital intensive nature of the ’Muela hydropower technically excludes the rural poor from being the immediate beneficiaries of the power from the station.

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eISSN: 1024-4190