ICT rollout requires major investment – Tweya
The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) objectives contained in the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) will without a doubt propel Namibia to greater prosperity, but only if the ICT sector invests in human and financial resources.
This sentiment was expressed by ICT Minister Tjekero Tweya when he opened the Third National ICT Summit in Windhoek yesterday. This year’s national summit, under the theme ‘Digital Transformation towards Economic Growth and Prosperity’, ends on Wednesday.
“We need to have a common strategy for our collective and individual digital business to set Namibia up for success for the ever-increasing dynamics of emerging ICT markets,” said Tweya in opening the fully packed conference hall at Windhoek Country Club.
Some of the targets set out in the HPP include covering 80 percent of the population with broadband services by 2020; 80 percent broadband connections and usage to all primary and secondary schools to allow e-learning by 2020; broadband connections and usage to 70 percent of health facilities to allow e-health by 2020; 100 percent broadband connections and usage to all public sector agencies to allow for e-governance by 2020; and 100 percent coverage by digital TV and radio broadcast to all households by 2020.
Tweya said his ministry would play the lead role in setting the national agenda for ICT rollout and the entire value chain, ranging from regulator to operators, service providers and ICT retailers to consumers and ultimately e-government services, which must all be aligned to a common objective.
“We’re all affected by the tough [prevailing] economic conditions and Fitch [Rating Agency] has become a topic of discussion in every sector of the economy. Hence, [those along] the value chain of ICT need to sparingly and jealously think carefully about every cent and dollar and how best to invest it to benefit the broader Namibian people out there, especially those located in the outskirts and often neglected areas of the country that are regarded as not economical viable,” he said.
He went on to say the ICT value chain should operate as a united force. “This will, without a doubt, require a robust approach for the implementation of ICT infrastructure development, commitment and a deliberate strategy of sharing scarce and expensive resources among ICT players, ultimately for the benefit of all Namibians,” he said.
At last year’s Second National ICT Summit Tweya said he would focus on the optimisation of the “dark spots” in the country that do not fall under the 70 percent ICT coverage, which the existing infrastructure guarantees.
“It is still my objective to ensure that the existing 70 percent coverage increases to 100 percent. By so doing the breakthrough… will give birth to a culture of inclusivity, so ensuring that nobody feels left out from the Namibian house of ICT.”
Tweya further said the optimal use and application of scarce ICT resources and investments, especially during tough economic times, would land breakthrough outcomes guided by digital transformation towards economic growth and prosperity.
This, he said, is ultimately the breakthrough space where the ICT sector should be positioned.
“We must, therefore, as key players in this people-centric ICT sector of our economy, constantly reach out to all corners of Namibia to deliberately include the Himba and San communities in the mainstream of ICT through various media channels, such as mobile phones, internet access, radio and television connectivity,” Tweya explained.