Lesotho

France and Lesotho

Political relations

Historically, Lesotho has had a special relationship with France due to the presence of French Protestant missionaries from 1820, who played a key role in evangelizing Lesotho in the 19th century. In 1868, these missionaries advised King Moshoeshoe, whose kingdom was threatened by the expansion by the Boers, to call on Great Britain to place it under its protection, thus sparing Lesotho from apartheid. It was in this context that the Reformed Church of France established its mission. This led to the creation of the Service Protestant de Mission (DEFAP), which is still the main organization of the French Protestant Federation (FPF) responsible for missionary cooperation with developing countries.

While political relations with Lesotho are modest, they are good, as shown by several high-level official visits (visit to France by King Letsie III in 2007 for the Africa-France Summit, and then again in 2015 for COP 21; visit to Lesotho by the Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, Jean-Marie Bockel, in 2007). It should be noted that the Alliance Française in Maseru houses the honorary French and German consulates. However, Lesotho has no embassy in Paris (it has an ambassador in residence in Berlin).

Economic relations

From an economic perspective, several French businesses (Spie Batignolle, EDF Hydro Engineering Centre, Tractebel) have commercial interests in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (a project to supply water to South Africa and create hydroelectricity).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

French cooperation with Lesotho, which comes under our Embassy in South Africa (http://www.ambafrance-rsa.org/), is based on linguistic cooperation (there are approximately 10,000 French-language learners in Lesotho), cultural cooperation, and the fight against crime. The French Embassy is leading a project to improve the employability of young people. France provides broader aid to Lesotho via multilateral assistance, including the 11ᵗʰ European Development Fund (€142 million granted to Lesotho for 2014-2020, to which France is contributing 17.81%), the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which is providing $93.2 million to Lesotho between 2014 and 2016, to which France is contributing $11 million, UNITAID and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.

Updated: 11.07.19