No matter where you go, it’s becoming increasingly clear that entertainment is heading very much online. Here in Lesotho, it’s no different. People here are starting to enjoy a much wider range of entertainment choices, including when it comes to film, television and more. Accessing entertainment and leisure online is becoming fairly standard, especially for the younger generation. This blog post will dive into the reasons behind the move to online entertainment in Lesotho and explore the extent to which the Lesotho experience is an exceptional one.
The situation in Lesotho
When it comes to online entertainment, Lesotho has plenty of choice. A useful place to start when it comes to investigating the online entertainment scene in Lesotho is to look at the figures. Netflix subscriber rates in the country, for example, are not available. However, Netflix pursues advertising in the country, suggesting that there is significant demand. Sites like YouTube and music services like Spotify are also popular. There are also online gambling options such as Spin247 available in Lesotho too, as technically, there is no law against online gambling in the country, and many people do participate.
In recent years, Lesotho has seen a significant proportion of its population purchase mobile phone subscriptions. According to some studies from recent years, well over a million people have mobile phone subscriptions. With smartphones also on the rise, it’s clear that the technology for digital leisure consumption is fast falling into place.
That’s not to say, however, that Lesotho doesn’t have any in-person entertainment facilities at all. A wander around a city like Maseru will demonstrate that other in-person destinations do exist. There are a handful of malls and other similar destinations. Like most countries, Lesotho has a balance between in-person options and virtual options, but is that balance the same as the wider continent?
And across Africa
The Lesotho experience is certainly not mirrored by the experience of everywhere in Africa in a universal sense. Some facets of the country’s history, geography and laws do not match the trends in the wider region. The fact that the country is landlocked, for example, has marked out its development over the centuries and has also affected its climate. It is also a full enclave, meaning that it is surrounded entirely by one other country: South Africa. As a mountainous region, it faces some barriers that other countries in Africa don’t.
However, when it comes to entertainment and the shifting patterns of leisure consumption, the picture is very similar. Take the example of Netflix: subscriber rates are skyrocketing in some of Lesotho’s neighbouring countries too, with South Africa in particular seeing large increases. Gambling, however, is an interesting case. The country’s lack of gambling laws is noticeable and does not match what some other countries on the continent experience. There isn’t a licensing system in place in the country, or at least not for online casinos — and there’s also no player protection system either.
Neighbouring South Africa, for example, struggles with online gambling regulation. Strong laws exist to try and push it out of business, but players continue to seek out options where they can. The example of Lesotho is perhaps an illuminating one for those who want to liberalise access to gambling around the world and could be used as a case study. While Lesotho’s relatively small population, and hence relatively small demand, makes it something of an outlier when it comes to assessing and analysing gambling laws. However, it’s liberal approach could act as a starting point for its neighbours. What would be needed would be a European-style approach to player protection which ensures that all participants are looked after.
In short, Lesotho is largely experiencing the same process as the rest of Africa when it comes to online entertainment. Consuming entertainment is starting to happen on an entirely digital basis, with many residents looking to services like Netflix for on demand streaming. Just as is the case in the rest of Africa, though, there are still some in-person leisure choices. In some cases, like online gambling, Lesotho has taken a different regulatory approach. But the overall picture is clear: Lesotho, like its counterparts across the continent, is making a defined — and potentially irreversible — move towards an online future for leisure.