ITU to second expert to Namibia Communication Act

Windhoek – The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has, upon request by the Namibian government, offered to second an expert to the country to help with the full implementation of the newly gazetted Communications Act. New Era Newspaper, reported on 16 June 2010 that the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology approached the office of Attorney General, Dr Albert Kawana, to help find an expert, preferably a lawyer, in order to fine-tune several aspects pertaining to some provisions of the Act. Kawana’s lengthy search did not land him any able expert on the local front, and the search was then extended beyond Namibia. The much-publicised Communication Act, 2009, came into effect on 16 November 2009, but several logistical and operational issues are said to have hampered its full implementation. Information and Communication Technology Minister, Joel Kaapanda, said that “enlisting of expert services” is among numerous bottlenecks that hindered the full implementation of the Act. “The Act has not been operationalised yet because a number of critical issues are yet to be put in place,” Kaapanda said. Among these, the minister said, is the completion of the transformation of the Namibia Communications Commission (NCC) into the face-lifted Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). A transformational project team (TPT) has been put in place to transform the NCC into CRAN, while help would also be sought to develop regulations guiding the new body. Kaapanda said only after such processes would facilities such as the interception centres, as provided for in the Act be put in place. Legal expertise would in particular be needed to ensure, among others, that the interception of communication between people, which the State said is aimed at ensuring the country’s security, do not clash with people’s right to privacy. After failing to find a suitable candidate for the expertise needed to fully implement the Act, Government has since turned to ITU, which responded positively to second an expert to do the final touches needed. ITU, an agency of the United Nations, regulates information and communication technology issues, and helps governments and the private sector to develop networks and services. The Communication Act which came into effect on 16 November 2009 replaced the Namibian Communications Commission Act, 1992 (Act 4 of 1992) and amended certain relevant sections under the Posts and Telecommunications Act, 1992 (Act 19 of 1992), among others. The Act also provides power to the Namibia Central Intelligence Agency to intercept any electronic communications which is deemed suspicious to the country’s security. However the Act came under heavy criticism from the media and other civil society organisation who argued that the interception clause will be abuse by those in power and is intend at silencing the media, a charge the government vehemently refutes.

June 2010
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