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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Lesotho to privatise energy firm
An electricity pylon
Only 7% of Lesotho households are connected to the national grid
Lesotho plans to sell 70% of its state electricity utility by the end of the year, officials say.

The move is part of an push to connect more homes in the tiny mountain kingdom to the national grid.

"We decided to privatise because the government does not have the capacity to finance household connections," an official told Reuters news agency.

This will be among Lesotho's largest privatisations, which include the sale of an airline and telecom firms.

Fixed price

According to figures furnished to Reuters, the LEC (Lesotho Electricity Company) was established in 1969.

But after 30 years, it has managed to wire just 7% of the country's 400,000-odd households into the national electricity network.

Lesotho, landlocked and entirely surrounded by South Africa, has a population of about 2 million.

The government's privatisation department has placed advertisements in South African newspapers inviting parties to place bids for the majority stake.

According to the advertisements, the sale will be at a set price, rather than one determined by auction.

The government aims to choose its preferred buyer on the basis of how many connections they promise to provide over a 10-year period.

Country profile: Lesotho
11 Mar 04  |  Country profiles

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