Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya has reiterated government’s commitment to ensuring access to information, but believes it is a sad reality that many Namibians do not have access to information because of their socio-economic status.
“Because they are unemployed, live in rural areas and are poor they remain excluded deliberately from accessing basic information that could improve their livelihoods,” he said at the celebration of International Day for Universal Access to Information in Windhoek yesterday.
Tweya said statistics indicate that only a few people in the country have internet access and as citizens we must be concerned about fellow Namibians that do not have access to these facilities, as these fellow human beings live in darkness.
Tweya also indicated that mobile coverage of 2G is at 95 percent, 3G around 30 percent and 4G around 15 percent and this trend tells a story that there is still a lot to do.
“We need to transform the entire structure, so that all can have access to basic information,” he explained.
On November 17, 2015 at the 38th General Conference of UNESCO, a resolution was adopted declaring September 28 International Day for Universal Access to Information.
Celebrating the day lends greater authority, visibility and acknowledgement to the issue of access to information and will ensure stakeholders, particularly governments, take it more seriously, he said.
Tweya said he wants all to think of those that are locked out by the system.
“Let us join hands as the public and private sector to ensure that universal access to information for all Namibians as basic human right is realised.
“Information is a basic right and let us work together to ensure all have access to information on radio, television internet and newspapers to have a knowledgeable society.”
The universal right to information is essential for societies to function democratically and for the wellbeing of each individual,” concurred Natasha Tibinyane the director of the Namibian chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa Namibia).
“Freedom of information, or the right to information is an integral part of the fundamental right to freedom of expression,” Tibinyane argued.
She said: “It is established as a right in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1966, which stipulates that the fundamental right to freedom of expression encompasses the freedom to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Tibinyane said people around the world are increasingly demanding greater civil society participation and transparency in public affairs.
“In this context, international law targeting an access to information day is necessary to promote the right to information. The establishment of a specific date provides a coherent message at international level and facilitates the coordination of joint initiatives on public awareness and education by organisers in the coherence of a universally recognised day,” she said.
The importance of the day in Africa was also officially recognised by Resolution 222 of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at its 50th ordinary session.
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