Introduction - Republic of Namibia

Namibia is situated in South Western Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Angola and Zambia in the north, Botswana and Zimbabwe in the east and South Africa in the South. The country has a surface area of 824,292 kmĀ² with 14 administrative divisions. The population as at July 2015 was estimated at 2.212 million inhabitants with a literacy rate of 81.9%. Sixty-four percent of the total population is between the ages of 15 - 64, with a median age of 22 years. Windhoek, the capital city, has a population of 368,000 (2015, CIA World FactBook). Namibia is multi-cultural with English as the official language, and 16 other languages spoken. Namibia is one of the first countries to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution with approx 14% of its land being protected including the Namib Desert coastal strip.

Namibia is an arid country with generally low and highly variable rainfall. Agriculture, largely subsistence, is the main economic activity for the rural population, contributing about 6.3% of GDP. Other activities include Industry (29.9%) and Services (63.8%) based on 2014 estimates. Diamonds, Minerals, Fish, Livestock and Livestock by-products are the country's principal exports.

In relation to Communications, according to figures provided by the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) there were 181,696 fixed phone subscribers, 2.3 million mobile phone subscribers and 1.2 million Internet Users in June 2013.

In terms of ICT infrastructure, the telecommunications backbone switching and transmission network was 100 percent digitalised in 1999 with state-of-the-art underground fibre-optic cabling, which facilitates access to advanced technologies, products, applications and services. Direct communication satellite links exist with neighbouring countries as well as with the UK, USA and Germany. The West African Cable System (WACS) was launched in April 2012, providing Namibia's first link to global submarine cable network. The optic fibre cables have interconnected all major towns with a fibre point of presence. Fibre cables have also been extended to the borders of Angola, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. The country has also deployed an IP/MPLS network country wide with points of presence in all towns. Telecom is further investing in a nationwide terrestrial fibre backbone infrastructure with the aim to increase capacity on existing fibre infrastructure to fully utilise the WASC capacity. Modern infrastructure includes the rolling out of the Government's Regional ICT Hubs, the High-speed (3G/4G LTE) network. Namibia is also connected to the South African Far East (SAFE) submarine cable through South Africa.

Namibia has three cellular operators MTC, Paratus Telecom and TN mobile. MTC launched 4G during 2012. MTCs 3G network is deployed in over 95 percent of the country making access to the Internet available through their 3G devices and internet enabled phones, in partnership with Nokia Siemens and Motorola. This has been an enhancement of the existing GSM/GPRS/EDGE broadband technologies with increasing international capacity through VSAT Internet gateways.

In March 2014, Namibia established its own Internet exchange point (IXP) in collaboration with the African Union Commission through the African Internet Exchange System (AXIS) Initiative.

Namibia has two main public institutions: University of Namibia and Namibia University of Science and Technology, 36 vocational training centres and 9 skills development centres, one private University and 1,450 schools. There are also several private colleges and open colleges operating in Namibia.

ICT Background

The Namibian Government recognises the value of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an industry to support socio-economic growth. The Namibian Government's Vision 2030 aims at transforming Namibia into a knowledge-based society and leveraging knowledge and technology for the benefit of the people of Namibia. To achieve that Vision, four Development Plans have been formulated. The NDP4 desired outcome for the ICT sector in is to ensure that by 2017, adequate ICT infrastructure will be in place to facilitate economic competitiveness through innovation, research and development: Availability of latest technologies score improves to 6.0 from 5.5. To this end, the ICT sector developed its Five year Sectoral Plan (2012 -2017) which is cascaded annually to the Annual Sectoral Execution Plan.

The Government of the Republic of Namibia envisaged that by embracing the development of ICT, Namibians will benefit through:

- Access and availability of information that assist them in their daily lives

- Increased competitiveness of business and commerce in the global market place

- Establishment of an environment conducive to the development of Namibian-based ICT providers that are competitive internationally, and create opportunities for employment and economic diversification

The Government of Namibia aims to ensure that every citizen and resident shall have affordable access to high quality information and communication services. To achieve Vision 2030, Namibia needs to accelerate the use of ICT in Namibia and grow the sector, hence the specific objectives of the ICT policy are:

- To enhance the market and regulatory structure of ICT in Namibia, to fully liberalise (open, competitive market and private sector participation) all telecommunications services by 2010, following a controlled process

- To establish streamlined, efficient and effective regulation of the ICT industry on a fully transparent, technology neutral and competitively balanced basis

- To provide universal access to information and communication facilities in Namibia for all communities (to telephones, Internet and multi-media services) by 2011, by establishing an access point in every community or village.

- To enable affordable prices for telecommunications services, particularly low income groups by 2010

- To enable profitable investment opportunities in all segments of the market by 2010

- To successfully implement government ICT initiatives in education and training by 2013

- To successfully implement e-government initiatives by 2015

- To establish Namibia as a first class regional ICT hub that will contribute towards job creation by 2013

A dedicated Ministry of ICT was established in 2008. Namibia has made good strides in developing the ICT sector. The overarching Information Technology policies include the IT Policy, Broadcasting Policy Communications 2009 and Telecommunications Policy, Postal Policy. The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), which was foreseen under the Communications Act of 2009, was operationalised in 2011. The National Development plan for 2013/2017 aims to have "adequate ICT infrastructure in place to facilitate economic development and competitiveness through innovation, research and development" by 2017. As a result CRAN has undertaken an assessment of current eInfrastructure to develop a plan for necessary ICT infrastructure, digital literacy and supporting ICT-skilled workforce development (CRAN 2014 Annual Report).

Higher Education Institutions are the major ICT hub for servers, computers, e-learning media system and Internet access through narrowband and broadband technologies offered by Telecom of Namibia, MTC, and other service providers, including Xnet.