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 km² and a population of 2.16 Million (est July 2012) with literacy rates of 88.8%. Sixty-two percent of the population is between the ages of 15 - 64, with a median age of 22 years. English is the official language, with Afrikaans, German and indigenous languages also 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 7% of GDP. Other activities include Industry (34.1%) and Services (61.3%). Diamonds, Minerals, Fish, Livestock and Livestock by-products are the country's principal exports.
According to 2011 figures, there were 140,000 fixed phone lines in use compared with 2.4 million mobile phones. There were 78,280 Internet hosts (2012) with 127,500 Internet users (2009).
Namibia has 1,698 schools, 13 vocational training centres and skills development centres, one public University with 13,000 students, one public Polytechnic with 11,000 students and one private University with 7,000 students. There are also several private colleges.
The Namibian Government recognizes the value of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an industry providing the underlying productivity gains for the overall economy. Hence, the Namibian Government's Vision 2030 stipulates that by 2030 Namibia should be a knowledge-based economy. In so doing, the government aims to establish ICT as the critical sector for the Economic Development of the country by 2030. It envisages 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
As its mission 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.
Although the ICT sector has developed in line with most global trends - new technologies and applications, there is still room for growth. 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. Namibia have two cellular operators MTC and Leo. Cellular (mobile telephone) service customers increased from 60,000 in 2000 to a record 1.535 million by 2011. [Note: National Planning Commission (NPC). 2008. Third Development Plan (NDP3), 2007/2008-2011/12. Volume 1. Government of the Republic of Namibia.]
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.
The West African Cable System was launched in 2012, providing Namibia's first link to global submarine cable network. MTC launched 4G during 2012.
High 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. For example, the Polytechnic of Namibia has over 2,200 PCs and Laptops located in more than 35 labs and well as in the library and offices, 259 laptops to be used by students and staff and 120 servers.
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