BUSINESSES in Lesotho have a low rate of incorporating information and communications technology (ICT) in their operations as only 26 percent are connected to the internet.
ICT is regarded as a vehicle enterprises can use to improve different facets of their operations by reducing costs, increasing efficiency and improving their competitiveness.
According to a report released by the Lesotho Communications Authority last year and titled “The State of ICT in Key Sectors in Lesotho of 2013” information technology can help increase the speed and reliability of transactions for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions.
The report was the outcome of a study of 903 local businesses consisting of trading and manufacturing enterprises. The study revealed that, of the businesses with internet connection, seven percent used only mobile phones to access the service.
It said among the businesses with computers, 71 percent had internet connectivity with an average of five computers connected to the internet.
“Regarding the type of data subscription that the businesses used, more than half (52 percent) were on post-paid, 44 percent were on prepaid and very few businesses (four percent) used the South African (SA) network,” reads part of the report.
The businesses that did not have internet connections cited high connection costs and lack of infrastructure among other challenges.
“Several reasons were mentioned and they included lack of knowledge about Internet and its value to the business, prohibitive connection costs and lack of infrastructure such as absence of network coverage (e.g. Base Transceiver Stations -BTS) as well as electricity,” the report stated.
The majority of contacted businesses said they were not planning to have internet connection in future.
“The majority (95 percent) reported that they were not planning to connect to the internet in the near future while a limited number (four percent) reported that they would get connected within a year or more. Also, one percent said installation was in progress at the time of the study,” it noted.
“The most common usage for internet in the businesses is sending and receiving e-mails which was confirmed by 93 percent of respondents. The other popular use is for getting information.
“Other reasons that were cited for using the internet included receiving and placing orders (53 percent), posting of information or instant messaging (41 percent), buying or selling of goods and services (39 percent), internet banking (38 percent) as well as telephoning, 25 percent (e.g. skype, viber, video call etc.).”
The report said half of the businesses were found to be using mobile internet connection that includes 3G, EDGE, GPRS, CDMA or EVDO technologies.
“The other commonly used mode of internet connectivity by businesses was ADSL (37 percent) whereas businesses that used leased line constituted eight percent. Small proportions of businesses were connected to Internet through Wi-Fi (seven percent), WiMAX (six percent), Dial-up (6 percent) as well as VSAT or satellite (two percent).
On the aggregate, businesses that used wireless networks (WiMAX, Wi-Fi, VSAT or Satellite) constituted 15 percent,” added the report.