Current ICT Initiatives and projects - Kingdom of Lesotho

The following section provides an overview of current ICT initiatives ongoing in Lesotho in the areas of eLearning, eHealth and eGovernment.

eLearning / Technology-Enhanced Learning

The National ICT Policy makes references to the education sector and in this context Lesotho has begun to take the necessary steps to promote higher levels of ICT access and usage in its communities and education institutions. Two key projects in the school sector were the NEPAD eSchools Demo Project and SchoolNet Lesotho. Which have highlighted how the use of ICT can enhance education. There are also some private sector companies independently engaged in making some technology accessible to schools at a price on the basis of leasing PCs to schools.

A recent study undertaken by the National University of Lesotho recommends the use of a Virtual Laboratory in Lesotho High Schools. This project is pending funding.

NEPAD eSchools Demo Project

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) eSchools Initiative was a multi-country, multi-stakeholder, continental initiative that aims to impart ICT skills to young Africans in primary and secondary schools and improve the provision of education in schools through ICT applications and the use of the Internet.

The first phase of the initiative was a demonstration project implemented by the private sector partners. The objectives of the Demo Project were to:

- Determine typical e-school scenarios and requirements in various circumstances in Africa

- Highlight the challenges inherent in a large-scale implementation of the e-school programme

- Monitor the effectiveness of multi-country, multi-stakeholder partnerships

- Determine best practice and exemplary working models for the large-scale implementation of the initiative, which aims to equip more than 550,000 African schools with ICTs and connect them to the Internet

- Demonstrate the costs, benefits, appropriateness, and challenges of a satellite-based network

- Demonstrate the costs, benefits, and challenges of ICT use in African schools

Lesotho was one of the 16 countries where the Demo Project was co-ordinated by a dedicated country liaison person based at the Ministry of Education and Training. Oracle and Microsoft supported the Demo Project in six Lesotho high schools by fitting each school with a lab comprising approximately 20 PCs, a server and printer, and a media lab which in some instances included a PC-based kiosk containing health information and satellite television access to education channels. Teachers at the six schools received training and learners have subsequently used the PC labs in the classroom.

Funding sources: Private sector partners

Geographic scope and time frame: National; ongoing

The SchoolNet Lesotho project has phased out and the schools continue to use the computers.

Pan African eNetwork - Tele-Education

This project aimed at providing tele-education services to 10,000 African students to undertake Post-Graduate, Under-Graduate, PG Diploma and Diploma and skill enabling certification courses in subjects such as Business Administration, IT, International Business, Tourism and Finance over a 5-year period in Indian Universities/Educational Institutions.

The National University of Lesotho through its outreach programme Institute of Extra-Mural Studies (IEMS) is connected to Universities in India where students in Lesotho have access to lectures in Indian universities. There have been regular tele-education services.

Funding source : Government of India

Geographic scope and time frame: National; ongoing

Promoting Learning and Teaching through ICTs in Schools (Microsoft Multipoint Server)

This project aims to provide learners with access to ICT in challenging environments where there is a lack of electricity and computers in schools. It was initiated by a primary school teacher at 'Mamoeketsi Primary School in Lesotho as part of their endangered indigenous plants project. Learners were to collect indigenous plants at home and using parents' mobile phones, text the teacher images and observations about the plants to build a database at school.

The project came to the attention of Microsoft and Dell. Mamoeketsi Primary School was provided with a Microsoft MultiPoint server (as central control point for student desktops) and computers for learners. The teacher is able to tailor her teaching to each child's individual ability and can monitor each child's progress from one central point. The learners are also taught how to upload their own blogs as part of the learning experience.

Other teachers at Mamoeketsi Primary School have followed her example and classes are now arranged in a different setting altogether for almost every subject. The teacher is now helping train other teachers in Maseru and also going into the rural areas to show them how to use the software.

Funding source : Microsoft

Geographic scope: National; ongoing

Lesotho School Technology Innovation Centre (STIC)

STIC is a joint venture between Microsoft, the Government of Lesotho and other non-governmental partners, headquartered at the Lesotho College of Education (LCE) in Maseru. It is focused on the development and research of new educational approaches, classroom solutions and practice to improve 21st century education and skills development outcomes in Lesotho. To date, 14 LCE lecturers and over 900 local teachers have received teacher development training through the Microsoft Partners in Learning programme. It is envisaged that in the future training sessions will also be undertaken with school principals.

The centre provides quality ICTs for use in education and aims to support teachers to use ICT solutions to effectively deliver curriculum and other relevant learning materials, processes and pedagogies. The STIC provides a service to all higher learning institutions in Lesotho and also supports professional development of pre and in-service teachers.

Funding: Microsoft, through SchoolNet SA

Geographical Scope and time frame: National; ongoing

Learning Hub Lesotho

Higher Life Foundation Lesotho (an initiative under Econet Telecom Lesotho) launched a Learning Hub in Maseru in May 2014 to support MDG2 Universal primary education for all by 2015. The offices in Maseru are close to four primary schools and 5 secondary schools (c2,700 students in total). The hub has 15 desk top computers with connections to the Internet and a reading section with educational and social materials. The hub is available to students and teachers from 9am to 5pm each day free of charge to undertake research and improve their digital skills.

Funding : Econet Telecom Lesotho, Higher Life Foundation Lesotho

Geographical scope and time frame : National; ongoing

National University of Lesotho THUTO

The National University of Lesotho has implemented a Learning and Collaborative Environment called THUTO to facilitate course management (lecture notes, tests, quizzes and grades), forums and chat rooms for students and teachers to discuss course related issues. THUTO incorporates tools for administration, assessment, communication, resource sharing and collaborative learning. Staff members have been trained on available functionality.

Funding : University of Lesotho

Geographical scope and time frame : National; ongoing

Laptops to Lesotho Project (L2L)

The Laptops to Lesotho project is focused on raising funds to distribute OLPC XO laptops to children in rural Lesotho, provide training, establish a LAN network to facilitate internet access and translate materials into Sesotho. The L2L organisation is currently supporting 2 schools, by providing 86 XO laptops, a generator system and associated training on usage, maintenance, repair of the laptops and setting up the solar panels and using the generator. The solar panel in the school is used to charge cell phones to help raise funds for the project, supplemented by a fund raising concert per semester. The teachers have access to tools to support their math curriculum. The project aims to expand to a third school during 2016.


ICT village in Mahobong

This project aimed to provide training on the use of ultrasound technology to the health personnel of the Holy Trinity Clinic in Mahobong to prevent deaths of mothers and children in the area surrounding the clinic.

A training period was initially undertaken in early 2011 and trained 20 people. OCCAM, WINFOCUS and Hospital of Lodi invited representatives from surrounding clinics to attend. A satellite connectivity was put in place initially to facilitate personnel in Mahobong to refer to dedicated staff at the Hospital in Lodi for second opinion and any other support needed. While training was undertaken at St Joseph's Hospital, an ultrasound was not provided. Over time it was necessary for the Holy Trinity Clinic in Mahobong to lend their ultrasound to the hospital.

The project was phased out as no follow on funding was available to support ongoing activities.

Funding source : The Ministry of Health of Regione Lombardia - Italy

Geographic scope : Mahobong, Leribe District; project completed

Electronic Medical Record

Electronic Medical Record (EMR), which is a computerized medical record, is created in a few hospitals in Lesotho and as of 2011 none of them had a fully integrated system. Subsequently EMR will be created in all hospitals in Lesotho. EMR systems will assist health care professionals to store and share patient information across disciplines and across facilities. It will also provide timely and efficient access to medical records without compromising patient privacy, and allows patients to engage in their own health care.

Funding source : Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)

Geographic scope and time frame : National and ongoing

Development of a web-based Social Welfare Routine Information System (SWRIS)

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Lesotho (MOHSW) and specifically the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) developed a routine information system for Social Welfare as part of setting up a functional Monitoring and Evaluation system for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) response in Lesotho. The system consists of a data procedure manual for data collection and reporting tools on services provided to OVCs at all levels. The frequency of data collection and reporting varies from monthly, quarterly and annually depending on the indicators for which data is collected and reported for purposes of Monitoring and Evaluation of the National OVC Program.

There are an estimated 220,000 OVCs and scores of other vulnerable children. Some require basic services to enable them to lead near normal lives. In order to plan appropriately for these numbers of disadvantaged children, there is need to know those that are receiving services and those that are not. This can be best facilitated by developing a database on individuals receiving services and the type of services they receive. In addition, there are destitute adults and elderly people being provided with services and these too need to be captured.

DSW is in the process of designing, developing and adequately testing a web-based database application that will enable it to collect and report relevant information for decision making and service provision at all levels of its structure in responding to HIV and AIDS pandemic as per the MOHSW and DSW strategic plans.

Funding source: The Global Fund Coordinating Unit - Lesotho

Geographical scope and timeframe : National and ongoing

Laboratory Information System

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Global AIDS Program (GAP) supported the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) by implementing a Laboratory Information System (LIS). The goal of this class of software, which handles receiving, processing and storing information generated by medical laboratory processes is to strengthen health system capacity and services for HIV/AIDS.

Lesotho piloted its current LIS in four laboratories (Central, Mafeteng, Makoanyane and Scott) after having assessed five of them.

There is a Health Management Information System underway which will include a central data repository serving health centers, hospitals, district health management teams, and central levels, where all health data can be stored and accessed. The system will include a dashboard to extract integrated reports. Data quality will be assured by built-in computer tools and techniques to check the reliability and accuracy of the data.

Funding Source : PEPFAR

Geographic scope and timeframe : National and ongoing

Rx Solution

From 2008 Strengthening Pharmaceutical Systems (SPS) has been providing technical support to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) by supporting the implementation of the Rx Solution, an electronic information management program. SPS is assisting the country to move towards a comprehensive, integrated patient management information system at hospital level. As at January 2012, Berea hospital has fully implemented the system, and now patient information can be tracked right from when the patient registers up until the dispensing point. This is a great milestone as it will assist the GOL in its endeavour to appropriately manage patient information, particularly of patients on ART, thus creating an enabling environment for improved management of patients on ART.

Funding Source : USAID

Geographic scope and timeframe : National and ongoing

Pan African Network - Telemedicine

The tele-medicine facility, which is focused on training the nurses and doctors on daily basis, will connect the Ministry of Health with health facilities around the world, while another system will be connected to the State House to enable the Prime Minister to communicate with other Heads of State. By January 2012 the infrastructure (satellite) has been installed in Teyateyaneng (T.Y.) Hospital.

Funding source : Government of India and African Union

Geographic scope and timeframe : National and ongoing

e Government

Digital Broadcasting Migration

The Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology has invested M400 million in the process of migrating from analogue to digital and it is in the first stage of implementation. The adoption of digital broadcasting will enable consumers to benefit from improved reception quality, additional programme channels and more efficient use of spectrum in the country. The Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology setup a digital migration unit to take charge of the migration process supported by the advisory committee and prepared the second draft of Lesotho Digital Migration Policy in March 2014.

Funding source : Government of Lesotho

Geographic scope and timeframe : National and ongoing.

Lesotho Government Data Network (LGND)

This project was an expansion of the Lesotho Government Data Network to district capitals. LGDN aims to connect all government offices in Maseru and in the other nine (9) districts to one network and data centre housed at Moposo House, the Ministry's headquarters. This will help to significantly reduce communications and data-sharing costs within government.

The main objectives were to:

- Ensure a connected government and support for rolling out IFMIS and related applications at the district level.

- Provide a reliable and secure backbone infrastructure that will cater for current and future IT needs of the government

- Eliminate duplication, facilitate interoperability of systems and reduce cost by sharing common network components across systems

- Create a stable communications platform for all ministries/departments to utilize in the execution of their citizen-centric operations

- Strengthen collaboration between various tiers of government

- Improved government service delivery to its citizens regardless of location by having access to similar services and applications throughout the Kingdom

All ten districts have been interconnected, with more than 110 sites connected and all links with 4MBPS.

Source of funding: Lesotho Government

Geographic scope and timeframe : National and ongoing

Revamping of LGDN

This project run by the Department of ICT aims to upgrade the concentrator resources for the LGDN project in order to correct the problems arising from the core. This will enable smooth operation of LGDN project. This project started in 2014.

Source of funding: Lesotho Government

Geographic scope and time frame: National, started in 2014

Establishment of IXP

The Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) initiated the establishment of the Internet Exchange Point (IXP) in Lesotho in order to improve access speeds for Internet users, reduce cost since a good proportion of traffic would be exchanged utilising local rather than international bandwidth. In addition, the IXP would create revenue through new business opportunities by allowing easier hosting of local domains and improved access speeds. To this end, the Universal Access Fund (UAFC) set aside about M1.8 million towards the establishment of the IX.

Since the creation of LIXP, LCA is in a position to ensure that all internal Internet traffic is handled within Lesotho. The LIXP project has helped address the issue of connectivity with the international bandwidth challenges. To help in this respect, LCA has a partnership with Afrinic. The data centre hosts the LIXP facilities and the infrastructure for the management of the country Top-level domain (.ls).

Source of funding : Universal Access Fund

Geographic scope and timeframe : National and ongoing

Utilities Sector Reform Project

This project, which is implemented by The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, addresses the infrastructure constraint in the implementation of Government of Lesotho's ongoing private sector led development strategy. Specifically, the project was to seek to improve business infrastructure such as electricity and telecommunication services, including provisions for Internet connectivity in the future.

Source of funding : African Development Bank, European Commission

Geographic scope and timeframe : National, final stage

Broadband Policy Project

This project. which is managed by the Department of ICT, aims to formulate a Broadband policy that will enable more accessibility/penetration. The project started in 2014 and the second draft of the policy was completed.

Source of funding : ITU and Lesotho Government

Geographic scope and timeframe : Nation wide; ongoing (5 year period)

Broadband Wireless Network Project

This project focuses on:

- Deployment of wireless broadband infrastructure for identified areas in Lesotho.

- Development of ICT applications for Lesotho.

- Training local experts on the operation of deployed wireless communication networks.

- Development of national ICT broadband network plans for the entire territory of Lesotho that will deliver free or low cost digital access for schools and hospitals, and for underserved populations in rural and remote areas.

- Development of an impact assessment report.

Funding : ITU

Geographic scope and timeframe : National and ongoing

Cyber Security Project

This project aims to develop and promote harmonized policies and regulatory guidelines for the ICT market as well as build human and institutional capacity in the field of ICT through a range of targeted training, education and knowledge sharing measures. Through this project, three national experts were recruited to work with three international experts to facilitate two workshops in Maseru whose aim was to transpose three SADC model laws into Lesotho laws.

The model laws are:

- Data Protection;

- Electronic Commerce and Electronic Transactions, and

- Computer and Cyber Crime

The workshops focused on building capacity and empowering stakeholders so that they could contribute to the adaptation of the model laws. Based on the questionnaire which was completed during the first workshop, the ITU experts were able to understand the need and context of Lesotho concerning issues that the model laws are focused on addressing. The second workshop incorporated work that was done by the expert teams to transpose model laws into the Lesotho laws. The ITU also provided an expert mission to Lesotho to assess her readiness to establish a national Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT). The mission consulted and interviewed key stakeholders and also conducted multiple studies and research to gather facts regarding the readiness of the country to establish a national CIRT. A national CIRT would become the focal point for coordinating information flow, respond to cyber-attacks and offer solutions to Cyber security incidents for the whole of Lesotho.

Funding: ITU through HIPSSA project "Support for Harmonization of ICT Policies in Sub-Saharan Africa"

Geographical scope and time frame : National and ongoing until 2016

eGovernance Infrastructure Project

The project aims to enhance good governance through the deployment of an e-government broadband infrastructure. The project aims to enhance coordination of public service delivery across Ministries, key agencies and local governments. The project also aims to strengthen existing Government data centers and portals and improve access to e-services for state building such as automated administrative services including e-payroll; civil registration; e-health, e-procurement, e-customs; and, revenue management

The project is composed of four components:

- Core Network Infrastructure: Revamp core optic network and broadband access: optimise the metropolitan core fibre and addition of core fibre from the two datacentres in Maseru to Mohaleshoek where there will be a third data centre. This will be achieved through assistance by the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC). In the case of broadband access, 4 unserved areas have already been selected and this in particular will be funded by Universal Access Fund.

- Government ePortal: Architect and design the eGovernment portal commencing with 7 online services.

- Skills Development: Facilities for training and research: Negotiations have been made that the facility training laboratory be placed at The Lerotholi Polytechnic where there will also be professional capacity building programs.

- Strengthening data centres: Upgrading equipment and improving control in the data.

Funding : African Development Bank and Universal Access Fund

Geographic scope and timeframe : National; started in 2014 and will run to 2017