Econet Telecom Lesotho

Here at LearnSesotho we recommend every incoming PCV to use Lesotho's best telecommunications company - which is Buddie prepaid cellular services. Buddie gives you instant access to your preferred GSM service provider, Ezi~Cel Lesotho, normally called Econet or ETL. Econet prepaid simcards can be used with any phone, therefore no need to get a new one upon arrival, additionally, you can get the simcard for free at Econet Store (No contract plan). Econet is a pay as you go plan which means you purchase Econet airtime or simply buddie, of certain amount, currently there is M5, M10, M20, M50 & M100 airtime vouchers which you could buy, and then recharge it on your account to buy data, voice bundles or sms bundles for a specific period of time, eg. Calling would be $x.xx per minute, texts would be $y.yy per text (We recommend using WhatsApp for texting as it is very cheap when you are using Econet) and finally data would be $z.zz per Megabyte. As services are used, the account balance declines, then when empty the account is recharged again. (more on this later) ETL offers coverage throughout Lesotho. Topping up your ETL account is very easy, all you do is buy an Econet Recharging Voucher, normally called Econet airtime or just buddie - which is sold almost in any cafés or supermarket, if you had problems topping up your account, you could dial Econet Customer Care hotline number - 177 - which operates from 6am to 10pm daily, or you could go to the nearest Econet Store - they are open from 8am to 5pm on weekdays and 9am to 12pm on Saturdays but remains closed on Holidays. Click here for directions of ETL Stores across 10 districts of Lesotho. Buddie offers free value added services & supplementary services which are voicemail, sms, call waiting/holding, call forwarding and many more. Buddie offers 3G LTE smartcards for smartphones which can store up to 200 names and numbers. To learn how to activate internet on your phone please scroll to the bottom of this page. (FAQ section)

Going through your Handset

After switching on, at the prompt, enter your PIN [Personal Identification Number] and press OK/YES. The PIN is available on the SIM certificate enclosed in the SIM Pack. You will also find an 8 digit PUK (PIN UNLOCKING KEY) printed in your Buddie SIM certificate, which is a security code to unlock the PIN (when blocked).

Recharging your Buddie.

The initial amount of airtime loaded onto a new Buddie simcard is M0.00, therefore you must recharge it with at least M5 ($0.38) airtime voucher to activate it. Upon activation you will earn FREE 500% of airtime & FREE 1000% of data which expires at midnight, while your original M5's validity period is 12 months and you could use it to purchase either data bundles, sms bundles or calling bundles.

You can purchase Buddie recharge voucher at supermarkets or cafés. All recharge vouchers come with a 12 digit secret code number that is you may have to enter into your phone to charge your Buddie account.
To recharge your Buddie account

  1. Purchase Buddie airtime and gently scratch the silver panel with the edge of coin, to reveal the 12 digit recharge secret code.
  2. Dial *133*SECRET-CODE#
  3. To view your current account balance dial *134# and hit Call or OK

Buying Bundles

It is advisable to buy bundles after a recharge - Econet offers best bundles in Lesotho - You can buy data bundles, sms bundles or calling bundles. To purchase DATA BUNDLES:

  1. Dial *100#
  2. Select 1 (Which reads: Buy Bundles)
  3. Select 3 (Which reads: Data Bundle)
  4. You will now see 5 options,
    1. Daily Bundles
    2. Weekly Bundles
    3. Monthly Bundles
    4. Social Media Bundles
    5. Wifi Bundles
    At this point, you can choose your preferred bundles, Daily Bundles expire at midnight, Weekly Bundles expire after 7 days, Monthly Bundles expire after 30 days and Social Media Bundles are in the same deals - daily, weekly and monthly. You could buy WhatsApp Bundles, Facebook Bundles or both of them (normally called Combo) for 24 hours, weekly, or monthly inexpensively. Just to demonstrate how awesome Econet Deals are - You could buy weekly bundles of 3 Gigabytes of data with just M75 ($6).
    Wifi Bundles are ideal if you want use internet on your computer via mobile hotspot - daily, weekly or monthly data bundles can also achieve that, in fact we prefer purchasing Weekly data bundles for connecting to the internet via mobile hotspot.

    To proceed with your daily data bundles you will be presented with

    1. Babatone
    2. Babatone Dark
    3. Sunday5
    You can proceed with the prompt when you Selected 1. Make sure you select My Phone if you want to buy bundles for your account or Other if you wish to buy bundles for another Buddie subscriber. Babatone expires at midnight and can be bought any day of the week (we prefer buying weekly data bundles because they offer a lot of data and takes 7 days to expire).

    Babatone Dark can be purchased between 2am and 5am and expires at 5:01am of the same day, they are great dels if you want to download large files on the internet.

    Sunday5 can only be purchased on Sundays and expires at midnight. You get 500Megabytes with just M5 ($0.38) for the whole day.

Purchasing SMS bundles:

  1. Dial *100#
  2. Select 1 (Which reads: Buy Bundles)
  3. Select 4 (Which reads: SMS Bundle)
  4. Select 1 (Which reads M5 for 7000 SMS)
  5. Sms bundles can only be used when you are sending smses to another Buddie subscriber. (We recommend downloading WhatsApp on your phone & buy social media bundles to make texts cheaply globally, instead of purchasing sms bundles.)

Purchasing Calling bundles:

  1. Dial *100#
  2. Select 1 (Which reads: Buy Bundles)
  3. Select 2 (Which reads: Calling Bundle)
  4. Select 1 (Which reads M5 for 7000 SMS)
  5. You will now see 3 options,
    1. Daily Calling Bundles
    2. Weekly Calling Bundles
    3. Monthly Calling Bundles
    At this point, you can choose your preferred bundles, Daily Bundles expire at midnight, Weekly Bundles expire after 7 days, Monthly Bundles expire after 30 days.
    By choosing Daily Calling Bundles you will be presented with the following menu:
    1. Nchoathi M10
    2. Ponto
    3. M4 Bundles
    4. Local Bundles
    5. Nchoathi Night
    By choosing Weekly Calling Bundles you will be presented with the following menu:
    1. M10 for 50 Minutes
    2. M20 for 120 Minutes
    3. M30 for 180 Minutes
    4. M50 for 400 Minutes
    5. Nchoathi Week
    By choosing Monthly Calling Bundles you will be presented with the following menu:
    1. Nchoati Month

On your final stages of purchasing bundles, you will be asked if you want to buy for your account or other subscriber, you will have to select 1. which reads My Phone if you want to make a purchase for your account and select 2. which reads Other if you want to buy for another Econet subscriber and then you will have to enter their number to proceed.

As of now, I'm certain that you have realized that whenever you purchase bundles dialing *100# is always your first command, Econet takes full advantage of USSD Strings to simplify your life. By dialing *100# you can fully take control of your account and enjoy Econet services.

Now let me teach you how to buy airtime in a cafe in Sesotho.

  • May I please have M5 Econet airtime
  • Ke tlo reka airtime ea M5 ea Econet
  • → / This is longer and a bit of a tongue twister - it is sort of formal /
  • M20 Buddie airtime
  • Buddie ea M20
  • → / You can also say this and the shopkeeper will understand you clearly - almost everybody says this/

Remember that the value of airtime is worth the amount of airtime, eg. M5 airtime costs M5, M10 airtime costs M10 etc, this is especially true in urban areas but in rural areas you may find that M5 airtime costs M5.5, M10 airtime costs M12 etc. We only have M5, M20, M50, M100 airtime vouchers. In Lesotho almost everyone understands English counting numbers therefore you would pronounce M5 five Maluti, M20 as twenty Maluti. Do not translate counting numbers into Sesotho when buying airtime because 'we' pronounce them in English too as you can proof from the records above. Nchoathi means someone who talks a lot thus we have Nchoathi calling bundles - Nchoathi is sarcastic, never say it to someone.

  • Talkative
  • Nchoathi


So far we have purchased bundles by selecting option 1, let us go through all the options.


EcoCash is a secure easy way of mobile banking that you could use to recieve and send money on your Buddie account, in order to use EcoCash, you would have to register. Registering is easy and free, all you do is:

  1. Dial *100#
  2. Select 2
  3. Enter your phone number
  4. Enter your Firstname
  5. Enter your Secondname
  6. Once you are done you should click 'ok' and you will immediately receive a text message confirming your registration you will notice that your password is 0000 but you could change it to any 4 digits of your choice by dialing *199#. You are now all set to receive and send money on your mobile phone, but one thing to know is that you cannot it's impossible to receive or send money from your loved ones abroad, EcoCash cash only works within Lesotho & among Buddie subscribers. Do not worry if you lose your phone, Econet can freeze the account and nobody would have access to yor EcoCash.
Upon successful registration, dial *100# : Select 2 : Enter your 4 digit PIN, You will be presented with the main menu and you can go over them individually.

To learn more about EcoCash please click here


EcoServices are services that Econet brings to you in order to improve your life & lifestyle. Dialing *100# then Selecting 3 will present you with 1. EcoSure and 2. EcoHealth. EcoSure is Econet's very best insurance service that we will not go over, we will look into EcoHealth though. EcoHealth is Econet's campaign of encouraging a healthy lifestyle among Econet Subscribers, By select EcoHealth you will see a list of helpful options such as Lose Weight, Womens Health, Stress the list is endless.

My Account

My account is a menu option where you could manage your overall account like see your account balance (You could also dial *134# to view your account balance), or recharge your account (You could also dial *133*SECRET-CODE# to charge your account), you can send 'Please Call me back' by dialing *181*RecipientNUMBER# - Please call me can be sent if you want someone (must be a buddie subscriber) to call you back if your account balance can't make any calls or you do not have calling bundles. Please Recharge me works just like please call me but instead of telling the recipient to call you back they inform him/her to recharge your account, you can send please recharge me by dialing *167*RecipientNumber#. With Econet you can tranfer your account balance to another Econet subscriber by dialing *125*AMOUNT*RecepeintNumber# the minimum amount that you can transfer is M1 and you must have a minimun balance of M2 to make a transfer, also you cannot transfer all of your amount to another subscriber,eg If you have a balance of M3, you cannot transfer M3. You will be allowed to transfer M1 or M2, if you have M10 you will be allowed to transfer any amount between M1 & M9. Loyalty points - an award program for awarding loyal buddie subscribers with points when recharging, making calls or purchasing bundles which could be used to redeem bundles. Loyalty points are similar to coupons and you subscribe by diling *121# and then select 5. To redeem your points after a certian period dial *121# and select either 2, 3 or 4. When you travel to South Africa, there is no need to purchase South African simcards because Econet's roaming charges are surprisingly low, therefore you can buy MTN (another dominant Telecom in S.A) recharge voucher and enter it on your buddie account in South Africa by dialing *222*SECRET-CODE#

Self Service

You can accomplish many tasks by going to the self service menuby dialing *100# then select 5, then you will be presented with a menu of helpful options like Airtime Credit - this is where you can borrow airtime to top-up your account and then will have to pay the amount+interest next time you recharge. This is very helpful if you need airtime in the midle of the night when cafes are all closed. You can also active and deactivate roaming on the self service menu.


Slahla is a

MusicTime! Bundles

MusicTime is a subscription service where you could listen to millions of songs.

Kwese Self Service

Kwese Self Service is a set top box TV subscription service which brings you entertainment channels, Sports Channels and News Channels. You can purchase the decoder at any Econet Shop.


Econet brings you competitions where one lucky Buddie subscriber could win up to M200, 000 ($15 400) and/or M5 000 ($385) dialy.

Security & Safety

Your simcard PIN number is your security code to ensure that only you have access to yor buddie account.It also has a PUK number, which is used to unlock your phone if you have keyed in the wrong PIN number thrice. You can also transfer yor simcard from one handset to another.
All details of the PIN & PUK numbers are in the SIM certificates, which is your proof of ownership, and it is therefore important not to los this certificate at any time.


List of useful USSD Strings you will be using daily

  1. *134# - View your account balance.
  2. *133*SECRET-CODE# - Recharging your account.
  3. *100# - Account Manager.
  4. *125*AMOUNT*RecipientNumber# - Transfer airtime.
  5. *181*RecipientNUMBER# - Send Please call me.
  6. *167*RecipientNUMBER# - Send Please Recharge me.
  7. *222*SECRET-CODE# - MTN recharging for traveling to South Africa.
  8. *197*1# - Activating prepaid roaming before leaving Lesotho.
  9. *197*0# - Deactivating prepaid roaming once you return to Lesotho.
  10. *121# - Subscribing to the loyalty program.
  11. Econet customer care number is 177 & it's free to call them. 6am to 10pm daily.

Please note that so far we have mentioned the following words a lot: Econet, Buddie & ETL they are the same thing/company therefore do not be consfused.


Robert - Ever since I got to Lesotho, I have been in contact with my family via Skype almost everyday simply due to the fact that Econet's internet speed and deals are so much better.

Mark - Econet is by far the best phone service I have ever used in any foreign country. The customer care operates from 6am to 10pm DAILY. Plus they speak English fluently & more than happy to help you.

Kelly - Researching on the internet with Econet is the best, especially on Sundays - they have what's called Sunday5, which means you get 500Megabytes of data until midnight for only M5 ($0.38) can you believe that.

Should your SIM card be lost or stolen please call 177 from another phone for a customer care consltant to report this loss and lock your simcard. Your mobile number will then be black listed to ensure that no other user can access your account.
If your SIM card is defective and you wish to to replace it and retain your mobile number, please bring your SIM card and SIM Certificate to the nearest Econet Shop. Note: This service can only be attended to when you bring your SIM certificate along. If you do not have have these details you will have to purchase a new SIM pack.
After you have picked up your new SIM card you will promptly be connected to the network. (Please note that there will be a charge associated with replacement of the card).
In line with public health and safety please swicth off your mobile phone in aircrafts, at gas stations as GSM mobile transmit electrical currents which interfere with radio transmissions and can be hazardos in the vicinity of highly inflammable liquids and fumes. It also sends out electro-magnetic emissions, which interfere with electrical equipment.
Android Phones
Follow this
  1. Go to Settings
  2. Under Wireless and Network click 'More'
  3. Mobile Networks
  4. Access Point Names
  5. On the name type: Internet
  6. Go to APN & type: Internet
  7. Click Save
Follow this
  1. Go to Settings
  2. Go to General & and turn cellular data on
  3. Choose 3G or 4G depending on your phone capability
  4. Click on cellular data networks
  5. Look for APN and type Internet and click on cellular
  6. Your settings will be saved
Windows Phone
Follow this
  1. Menu
  2. Select connectivity
  3. Select packet data then go to edit active access point
  4. On Access point names, type Internet and on the packet data access point, type Internet and then select ETL and click activate.
  5. Go to configuration and select personal settings and then click add, click web and select account name then type Internet.
  6. Go back to personal settings and choose access point.