flag Lesotho Lesotho: Investing

FDI in Figures

According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2021, FDI inflows into Lesotho amounted to USD 102 million in 2020, showing a slight decline from USD 118 million in 2019, following the global health and economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. FDI stocks in the country amounted to USD 923 million in 2020. In 2021, global FDI flows rebounded strongly, but FDI flows to African countries (excluding South Africa) rose only moderately (UNCTAD’ Investment Trends Monitor). The textile industry attracted many investments and others are expected for hydroelectric facilities. Lesotho's small-scale manufacturing sector is also a recipient of FDI. South Africa and South-eastern Asian countries are the main investors.

In the latest available Doing Business report from the World Bank, Lesotho fell to the 122nd rank worldwide, losing 18 positions from the previous year’s ranking. High port authority expenses due to Lesotho's landlocked territory and the relatively low quality of its infrastructure are real constraints to investors. High credit and setup costs, skills mismatches, and gaps in legal and dispute resolution frameworks, insolvency resolution, and property rights continue to inhibit business development (IMF). The recent political crises have also discouraged foreign investment. The second phase of Lesotho Highlands Water Project has been bloked for several years. However, Lesotho has certain assets such as a high productivity rate, a skilled labour force and an untapped tourism potential. To ease import and export, the government has established an automated customs data management system (ASYCUDA). Large infrastructure projects that aim at developing the country’s hydroelectric power industry will likely attract new investors in the following years. The African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) - a special provision that grants textiles manufactured in Lesotho duty-free access to the U.S. - attracts FDI as nearly 80% of Lesotho's textile exports target the American market. The AGOA was extended by the U.S. Congress until 2025 but the textile industry is currently facing a crisis, as factories failed to secure orders from the U.S. and recent political development in Lesotho could lead to a suspension of this provision.

 

Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors

  Lesotho Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 3.0 5.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 4.0 3.5 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 9.0 5.5 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201820192020
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 129118102
FDI Stock (million USD) 703.5821.1923.1
Number of Greenfield Investments* 4.03.02.0
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 16331411

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

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Tax Rates

Value Added Tax (VAT)
15% (standard rate);
12% for telecommunications;
9% for electricity supplies.
Zero-rated items include export of goods or services; agricultural input (fertilizers, seeds and pesticides); beans; bread; lentils; livestock feed and poultry feed; maize (grain); milk; paraffin intended for use as fuel for cooking, illuminating or heating; peas; sorghum meal; unmalted sorghum grain; wheat; wheat flour.
Exempt items include education services provided by certain institutions; certain financial services; transportation services, defined as the transportation of fare-paying passengers and their personal effects by road; supply of public postal, transportation, medical or dental, financial, insurance, or education services; supply of unimproved land; certain supplies by way of lease or letting of immovable property subject to certain provisions; supply of water; supply by an amateur sporting organization of sport activities, where such activities are deemed for the purposes of this Act to be nonprofessional; supply of cultural activities and supplies deemed to be so by the Commissioner-General, which would include, but not restricted to, the collection of entrance fees, or where such events are regular events (provided that such activity is for a nonprofit supply or service); supply of charity arrangements undertaken by an organization or institution deemed by the Commissioner-General to engage in or conduct charitable activities or work subject to certain provisions.
Company Tax
25%
Withholding Taxes
Dividends: 0% (paid in respect of manufacturing income)/25%, Interests: 15% (paid in respect of manufacturing income)/25%, Royalties: 15% (paid in respect of manufacturing income)/25%.
Bilateral Agreement
Lesotho and Mauritius concluded a Double Taxation Agreement.
Social Security Contributions Paid By Employers
There is no social security system in Lesotho.
Other Domestic Resources
Lesotho Revenue Authority
Overview of Lesotho's tax measures in response to Covid-19
Consult Doing Business Website, to obtain a summary of the taxes and mandatory contributions.
 
 

Individual Taxes

Income tax Progressives rates from 20% to 30%
From LSL 0 to 64,200 20%
Above LSL 64,200 30%
 
 

Country Comparison For Corporate Taxation

  Lesotho Sub-Saharan Africa United States Germany
Number of Payments of Taxes per Year 32.0 36.6 10.6 9.0
Time Taken For Administrative Formalities (Hours) 327.0 284.8 175.0 218.0
Total Share of Taxes (% of Profit) 13.6 47.3 36.6 48.8

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

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Investment Opportunities

Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Fontier Market Network, Tenders in Africa
African Tenders
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
Setting Up a Company
Consult Doing Business Website, to know about procedures to start a Business in Lesotho.
Useful Resources
Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC)
Lesotho Government Portal
Economic Developments and Prospects in Lesotho - African Economic Outlook
Business Portal for Africa
 

Business Setup Procedures

Setting Up a Company Lesotho Sub-Saharan Africa
Procedures (number) 6.00 7.51
Time (days) 15.00 21.30

Source: Doing Business.

 
 
 

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Latest Update: May 2022